Icy Bed

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Isaiah 46:4 And [even] to [your] old age I [am] he; and [even] to hoar hairs will I carry [you]: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver [you]. 
This story happened in February- March of 2002  to my Dad, Vernon Sample in the far North. In the cold regions of Alaska.
Awakening early as dad always does, he decided to go outside for a walk.

His custom has been to get up around 4AM. He has been such a hard worker all his life. He was raised in a large family and had chores of milking cows and working the garden before attending school. His father also insisted on family Bible reading times. His father worked in the Pacific Press and at one time took notes as Ellen White spoke in the early 1900's.

 As an adult dad kept this custom of getting up early. He prepared carefully his lessons for teaching at school. Then he awakened the family.  A hearty breakfast was eaten, with time reserved for Bible reading and prayer for all five children before rushing out the door for work an hours drive away. He picked up other children besides his own five to ride an hour to a Christian school daily.

 Dad kept his early rising customs into his retirement years. He loved the outdoors and wildlife. He taught high school biology, math and music and kept us all challenged memorizing scientific names of all flowers near our country home.
The Bible says to honor your father and mother that your days may be long upon the land that the Lord gives you.  Exodus 20. My father always honored his mother. He was an obedient son. His dad had fathered  him when he was 60 some years old. Grandpa lived to a good age of 94. Grandma Laura lived on for many years after grandpa died. I remember how dad always had her over each week for time with us. She could not do much. Her heart was not ticking real good. Her legs were swollen but she enjoyed our company.
Dad loved the snow. He would play with us. He made a toboggan out of wood and together with us slid down our hill in Falls City, Oregon. He would make sure we had lots of warm things on. Dad built this nice big house for us. He was such a hard worker.
I remember sixteen and 1/2 years ago, during my third year final exams in medical school when dad drove out 2,000 miles to help me. I had just given birth to my first born son. Mom had a job but dad was retired. Dad came to take care of Lloyd for 6 weeks. He said he had never cared for his own children this way. Mother had done it all. 
Dad had played with my children as he had played with us. I remember all the great hikes into the mountains he had taken us on. He had been so full of energy and so strong. He loved to take us up for hikes in mountains. Pictured on the right are my sisters and I, and part of  brother Jack.
Well back to my story of the ICY BED.  Dad  had stayed indoors too much since their recent move to Alaska with his school teaching son Jack Sample. It is dark so much of the day in Alaska because it is so far North. Dad headed out but it was very hard for him to walk even on smooth surfaces. He was not capable of thinking very clearly. He is old and weak. He just had socks on his feet. He did not get very far. His feet slipped and he landed in the ice and snow. He was unable to get up. He was not even dressed up for cold. He had a short sleeve shirt and pants on. He tried hard to get up but kept slipping. Poor dad cried out for help. My brother was sound asleep.  He heard nothing. because of the way the house is laid out Jack and his wife were in the basement on the opposite side of the house from him. There is no way we could have heard him even if we
were awake.

Dad is not very strong. His Parkinson's disease has him so weak he has trouble being heard and understood. He has trouble walking.
Dad struggled until he began to feel very sleepy. He cried out for help but then the sleepiness overwhelmed him. He had been in the snow in thin clothing for about an hour.
Half a mile away, a neighbor heard something strange in his bathroom. A piece of pumice went "plunk" onto the floor of the shower. He was awakened.

He investigated the noise in his house but did not hear Daddy from inside. He decided to go ahead and let his dogs out since he was up anyway.  It was then that he heard Dad and thought it was an animal caught in his back fence or something.  He went back in and got dressed more warmly and told his wife he was going to go out and see if he could figure out what the noise was.
  Something urged him to keep looking even after the cries were silent. He searched throughout his whole place then worked his way to where my brother Jack lived. The crisp freezing night air nipped at his face. He felt an urgent need to keep looking with his flashlight. As he neared my brother's home, he began to feel foolish. What if he spooked my brother. What if he got in trouble for snooping around in someone else's yard? Yet, he kept looking. He was really looking for an animal. That is what he thought he had heard.

As he passed my father on the ice, dad turned on the snow but really was drowsy and said nothing. The neighbor flashed the light over to the spot that he heard the rustling. There was daddy, nearly frozen to death. The neighbor sprang into action and pounded for all he was worth on the door of my brother Jack's home. It was five in the morning and Jack was hard to awaken. He sleepily went to see who was at the door but he had not even dressed. Shocked at the neighbor's statement that our daddy was fallen in the snow and nearly frozen to death, he sprang out the door without putting anything warm on and together they gently pulled daddy from his icy bed and placed him into a tepid bath and called the ambulance. It took perhaps 15-20 minutes for ambulance to arrive.
Daddy recovered amazingly well. He is feeble and has lost so much weight during his long illness with Parkinson's.. Because he had no fat padding, the cold should have ended his life but it was not in God's plan.  His core body temperature was down to 94 as reported at the hospital. This temperature was taken after he had been warmed up for a total of 45 minutes. I could guess his core temperature could have been as low as 92 or 93. It is a miracle he survived. I know my daddy had help. God still has work for him to do. It was not the time for him to die.
I like to imagine how some angel must have caused a disturbance in the neighbor's home. I like to think that he even put a megaphone to dad's cry for help. You know dad cannot really be heard from across the house very well. I do not hear car horns that are at the end of my driveway. It is the same distance. One half mile away even in crisp cold air is a long ways for an elderly feeble man  to be heard. God cared for my daddy as He promised in Isaiah 46:4.
The Bible speaks of the weakness that comes with old age. I remember dad reading this during one family worship when I was a child. I could not imagine my dad ever being old, but it has happened.  Yet, I tell you this, God will never forget those who have spent their life praying, working for Him and sharing their Bibles with others. God does not throw away those who have grown old in HIS service. 

Remember to take care of your parents and honor your parents. Obey them and show them respect. As you live a life like Jesus, you are bringing them honor, and God will take care of you when you are old.

Text to think about:

Ecclesiastes12:1 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; 
12:2 While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain: 
12:3 In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves,
(old man now walking with a cane) and the grinders (his teeth) cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened, (he looses his eye sight)
12:4 And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird (It gets harder for older people to sleep. Just little things awaken them), and all the daughters of music shall be brought low; Meaning the hearing is leaving. (Dad was a great musician but now he cannot play any instrument, he cannot direct choirs any more. He cannot direct bands anymore as he did during his teaching years in Christian schools)



My brother Jack sees he is learning special lessons in caring for his daddy. In his own words he shares:

"I told Dad the reason God saved his life is because God is teaching us important lessons for our character in how to
forget ourselves in caring for the helpless. We have a great need for this aspect of our characters to be developed. You don't realize how selfish you are until you have to constantly give up your own desires to care for someone