By Rosanna Bauman
It was a busy morning of book work, sewing and housecleaning. The sales tax had to be figured and paid, and there were seven dresses to put buttonholes in. And already it was nearly lunchtime. The boys would all be coming in looking for lunch, and we hadn’t even started. Suddenly, Marvin burst into the house, bringing with him a cloak of surreal-ness. "Mom! Ugh! Ugh ! Mom !” Marvin gasped as he limped to the kitchen chair.
“What’s the matter?” Mom gasped as we dropped our things and moved toward him. Marvin never groans, so this was obviously something serious.
“The bale spear ran through my leg!" Marvin gritted in a doomsday voice. Our eyes caught sight of a rising red stain on his pant leg.
Mom knelt to remove his shoe while I ran for the sewing scissors. Mom was still struggling with the bootlaces when I returned, so I snipped the laces and swiftly cut up his pant leg to reveal a red, pulsing hole in his calf. Mom immediately set to work pressuring the wound to slow the bleeding while I collected basins to flush the puncture, and called my uncle (who is a doctor) for his advice. Neither Marvin nor I wanted to go into the Emergency Room, because we knew that they would just flush the wound, put a bandage on it and charge an atrocious amount. The wound did not have any visible dirt or hay around it, so we determined to try to flush it as much as possible at home. We put Marvin in the recliner and stuffed three pillows under his leg. I didn’t see an exit hole and the entry hole had closed back up to a nickel size, so I set about trying to flush the wound with water. His blood had already clotted, so we had to squeeze his leg a tad to get the blood flowing again so it would help pump any dirt out. Marvin has a high pain tolerance, so he didn’t pass out, but gasped around a bit. We gave him two pain killers, applied some drawing salve and a bandage, then went back to fixing lunch.
At lunch time, we helped him to the table, and I spotted a new spot of blood on his leg. The exit hole! It had closed back down to only a 1 /4 inch hole. With this realization that the spear did pass all the way through his calf muscle, came the acknowledgement that we would not be able to adequately flush it. Mom determined to take Marvin in to the ER. “If you get an infection in that wound, you could lose your leg!” Mom declared. Marvin knew that no argument would be effective against her determination, and acquiesced.
Only then did we pause to get the story of how this improbability happened. Marvin was using the skidsteer with the bale spear attachment to load hay onto a trailer. This attachment has two sharp prongs that are 2” thick and can hold up to 2,400 pounds of hay. The trailer was nearly full, so Marvin maneuvered the spear so that he could scrunch up the bales using the “forehead" of the attachment. The angle and the force was just wrong, and the attachment came unlatched. This sudden release caused the skidsteer to lurch forward, so that the heavy steel spear fell right into the cab of the skidsteer where Marvin was sitting. There’s no good spot for a heavy steel spear to hit you, but the calf was certainly the only spot on the entire body where such a large diameter could penetrate and not hit any vital organs or bones. This was very sobering. Any other location — thigh, chest, head — would have probably killed him.
Marvin is not only a dedicated husband and father to three little girls, but also a cornerstone of our daily farm operations, and provides important leadership as the eldest child. As the Psalmist said "the Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive”. Just a week after the accident, Marvin’s leg is no longer swollen and operating fine.
Easter is here with its message of new life and redemption. Easter coincides with lots of evidence of new life in the natural worId- spring flowers, baby animals, and many other hopeful signs as we emerge from winters grasp. In our very own family, this message has been repeated clearly: that when you should have died according to the laws of nature and probability, instead you were pardoned and given a new chance to live a life that is better, purer, and stronger. “Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is, that I may know how frail I am."