As this new year began, to paraphrase Charles Dickens, " it was the best of times, it was the worst of times". On December 30, Mom and I returned from a movie to find a message from my sister Ann, in Roswell. She told us that her husband, Mick, had gone out hunting for a few hours at 10 am, and had not returned. At 9 pm she contacted the sheriff. We slept little that night as we waited for a call with the news we hoped for....but by morning the fear had really set in. He had not been found, and a search and rescue team had been sent out. We hoped he would be found safely that day, but as the hours dragged by, our fears deepened. Ann called at 7pm and said that the sheriff had just left, that they held out very little hope that he would now be found alive. He had been dressed lightly as he had just planned to be out for a few hours and the temperatures had been a sunny 75 degrees. However, in the New Mexico desert, the temperatures drop rapidly after sunset, and were in the twenties during the night.
Mom and I left Arizona at 6am for the 12 hour drive. We were on the cell phone with updates, and receiving calls from friends and family who had received my emails, and were offering prayers and support. We were almost half way there when we got an excited call from Ann. Mick had been found....dehydrated, hypothermia, exhausted, weak, confused....but ALIVE! We decided to continue to New Mexico as she said she could use some family support.
Mick survived three days and two nights without food or water, walked about 30 miles, and had survived by keeping his wits, staying awake at night to jump up and down and repeat his multiplication tables to keep from freezing, and at one point had decided to keep one bullet for himself in case he should break a leg and the coyote pack was closing in. What a frightening, painful ordeal! He had found a flat rock and scratched a farewell message to Ann, but then was too weak to carry it with him. He fell into some cholla cactus and had many thorns in his legs, badly cut a finger, and has blisters on his feet, but was in apparent surprisingly good condition when he was brought home.
As terrible as his ordeal was, it also was not without some good. My sisters family became closer and learned the importance of not taking each other for granted. Her daughter displayed a side of her that didn't know, as she made calls to neighboring ranchers, search and rescue teams, and was a source of strength for the family. Mick could not believe the good that remains in people today, as they gave up their New Years Day plans to search for him....not out of the duty of a job, but because they truly cared about another human being. And there were prayers for him coming from friends and family all around the world. Those involved in the rescue called his being found alive a miracle, and many believed it was all the prayers that made the difference in his being brought home alive.
It has been a week of fear, tears, apprehensions, excitement and joy. We are all very thankful for the positive outcome, for all the prayers and support from friends, and for the good that has come of this experience. We are hoping for a full recovery for Mick, and that they will get the home they are considering in Wickenburg. In times like these, we need our families....and Ann and Mick are just too far from all of us now!
So now back to reality. Time to put away the remaining Christmas decorations, get out and see my horse that Betts has cared for so generously, and get back to cleaning, laundry, bills and dieting. Life returns to normal, but lessons have been learned and memories have been made. May the rest of 2009 be as positive. In a few weeks I will turn 62 and start social security, officially making me an old person. Obama will assume the daunting position as president, and the country will be optimistic for the beginning of the end for the economic disasters, housing collapse, and return to a time of peace. Sometimes miracles do happen, and our prayers appear to be heard. God Bless, Barack!