By Fire Chief Moody
I must’ve been around four years old, since that’s about as far back as one can recall a memorable event, and this was the Jim Dandy of memorable events.
The sky was clear blue. A bright sunny spring day – a perfect setting for a family picnic. The flowers at Oakdale Park had burst into full bloom in response to recent heavy rains. That same rain had filled the Smoky Hill River bank to bank with fast flowing muddy water.
Parents back in this time didn’t entertain-play as much with their children. Children played with children.
So, my older brother and I wandered over to play on the playground equipment. After a short time we tired of that and decided to explore the nearby river area.
Once at the river’s edge we noticed a rather large dead fish floating on top the water.
I decided to see if I could snare the big beast with a stick. As I neared the shore’s skirt the oddest thing happened – the fish disappeared. Unbeknownst to me the rapid waters had washed out a cavity under the edge of the bank.
So, I got down on my hands and knees and leaned out – a little further, a little further – and then it happened.
Face first I plunged into the murky waters. My head was under the water just a short time, but I can still remember that moment. The swirling brown particles with eye sight limited to inches.
Somehow my catapult was such that once righted I was facing and still within reach of shore. My arms revolved around like a Ferris Wheel trying to grab something on the shore, but the recent rain had turned the shore into a virtual oil slick.
All hope seemed lost and then then it happened.
It was a hand that locked into mine – my brother’s hand, a brother who put his own life in danger. Mike reached out to me without regard for his own safety and kept me from being a victim of the Smoky Hill River.
My career in emergency service has spanned thirty-seven years and is still going strong. But if not for my brother, I would have never been a part of saving any lives as an emergency provider.
The famous Christmas movie named “It’s a Wonderful Life” is about a man named George Bailey who does what my brother did – saves his brother from drowning. The movie has a moment when an angel named Clarence asks George, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”
A few years ago, I was visiting my brother who now lives in Texas. We were enjoying a day at the San Marcos River floating down the rapids on inner tubes. After going through the rapids and drifting downstream, I came to a stop midstream.
Looking back up the river I noticed a mother and small boy hitting the rapids. They fell out of their inner tube and submerged. The boy, still submerged, floated directly at me. When he reached me, I simply reached out and grabbed his arm.
If not for my brother…