Biscuits and Gravy: Helping Hand
Spring time lends so much for people as the blossoms — once held captive by the cold, hard, icy grip of winter — begin to burst forth. Children go out to play, adults begin to argue relentlessly with the oncoming march of the garden weed, and youth begin their trek across the countryside to new adventures.
Being in the South, and being a youth myself, I was far from being any exception to that rule. I recall one spring day in particular that an adventure ended up requiring a bit more of a helping hand than I was prepared for.
The church youth group often made journeys into the mountains nearby for outings or wild adventures. The mountains back home offered so much right at our very doorstep that there really wasn’t much of a need to go anywhere else other than into the wings of those deep mountain hollers.
One spring, we decided as a group that we wanted to enjoy the offerings of one of the great attractions of the area. Now, it wasn’t exactly a tourist spot to say the least, but to us tarheel backwoods folk, it was our Disney. Silver Creek was a backwoods stopoff point for campers in Pisgah National Forest that offered camping, swimming and even a monstrosity of a water slide into Silver Creek itself. Of course being a young feller myself, I opted for the wild ride of the water slide early on but that became a bit monotonous to say the least so, along with the rest of the gang, I ventured over to the old swimming hole.
Don’t know how many swimming holes exactly that you may have encountered, but any back in those hills are all fresh water creeks and rivers fed from a variety of natural springs welling up from deep inside the mountains and underground lakes. Couple that with it being very early spring, and that water was colder than a well diggers’ rear end in the middle of February.
Of course, showin’ off for the girls nearby meant I had to not show my total shock when I hit that water. Gradually though, I began to become accustomed to the water, and we all began to have a serious blast. Horseplay and all, we filled the evening with laughter and joy that would make even a rabid badger crack a grin or two. Though it was hardly to last.
You see as I continued to show off, play the strong fella’, and show everyone what I could truly do all on my own, I began to stop noticing what my body was trying to tell me all along. Soon, the shivering from the cold icy water was replaced by fatigue, cramping and loss of cohesion in my thoughts.
There, in the middle of Silver Creek in the depths of that swimming hole, my body began to lock up tighter than a Dix hat band. Hypothermia had begun to set in in due course. Unable to think straight and unable to move, I was all alone and began to sink quickly without a hope of fighting my way out of it. Yet, despite my dilemma, despite everything pointing to my demise, a hand shot down through the water and pulled me back to the surface, held me tight and drug me to shore.
Our youth minister, Scott Randall, had noticed my struggle and had come to my rescue. Although to this day he downplays it whenever I mention the event, he truly did save my life with that helping hand.
With my last breaths upon me, he rushed to my aid and pulled me out of the icy torrent. It seemed, at least at the time, that I was surely done for.
Unable to save myself and cry for help, he had been watching and had offered that hand even when I was too weak to ask for it in the first place. I never will forget that day, and typically when I talk to Scott, I’ll mention it at least a time or two, but I often wonder how it was that he was watching me at that precise moment to be able to pull me from that water in just enough time.
Granted, we all have our scares and fair share of close calls but for me, that moment was a sudden realization that I wasn’t going to see another sunrise. Yet, thanks to a helping hand I was able to cary on and continue all the wild and crazy antics that I’ve been so vastly popular for ever since. Of course, one would think that maybe after something like that I would wise up and be a bit more careful. Guess some of us never learn!