Week 11, 2009
STORY OF THE WEEK
The Winner of the Readers' Choice Story of the Week
Your Story Our Lady of the Miracles has been chosen as the Winner of the Readers' Choice Story of the Week.
I should not be writing this. I should have been taken from this ‘mortal coil’ more than once. When I was eight months old I contracted meningitis and was speedily conveyed to the little hospital in Victoria Avenue, Chatswood, north of the Sydney Harbour Bridge where I had been born.
That evening my parents were called to my bedside and were told by the specialist, “he will not live through the night, there is nothing we can do!” My mother who is deeply religious had brought her bible with her and together my parents prayed for my recovery all night by my bedside. I was released within a few days.
When I was five years old I was recovering at home having just had my tonsils and adenoids removed because of persistent sore throat and similar ailments. Suddenly one afternoon my stiches ruptured and I started coughing up blood and could not breathe properly. My parents had recently had a telephone installed in our little rented duplex in Tulip Street, Chatswood. With my brother at school and my father at work my mother had no one to which she could turn. She immediately rang our doctor who rushed to my bedroom and performed first aid which saved my life, with Mum fervently reading her bible lessons by his side. This was the same wonderful doctor who had delivered me five years earlier.
A few years later we moved to North Epping which was mostly paddocks and bushland in the mid 1950s. When I was thirteen my dad allowed me to build a lizard and tortoise pit. One holiday morning I was on a bush ledge five metres about the most handsome blue-tongue lizard I had ever seen. As I was working out how to sneak down the track without startling him I apparently slipped of the moss-covered ledge.
I awoke about half an hour later lying on the lizards table-top like sun-bathing rock. No prized lizard, no broken bones, no damage to my body whatsoever. A few days later I told Mum what had happened. Sure enough at the time of my accident my mother had been reading her bible lessons and praying for her family's safety as she always did at that time of the late morning.
When I was sixteen I was with some mates playing golf at North Ryde Golf Course in Sydney. On the second tee I had sliced my drive onto an adjacent fairway. As I approach my golf ball I heard the sudden cry of "four", golf language for "look out"! I looked up to see a golf ball hurtling towards my head. I had no time to duck or move, so fast was it moving. It hit me fully in my lower mouth knocking out one tooth and pushing my lower gum backwards under my tongue. After repeated surgery most of my lower teeth were saved and my gum eventually healed. My Macquarie Street dental specialist was amazed that I was still alive. He calculated that if the golf ball had hit me in the nose or temple or throat I would have died instantly!
On completing high school, I was award a scholarship to study Physical Education at Sydney Teachers' College. At this institution I studied and worked with Dr John Hinwood and also met his delightful wife Judy. At a recent reunion I told John about some of my miracles and he asked me to write this essay.
Later in life as a single parent I moved to the mid north coast of New South Wales where my two sons went to school and I worked as a relief teacher. My boys joined in the local lapidary club and bought home some opals they had bought in the rough and cut into lovely stones. Leif and Eric on leaving school left home to take up an apprenticeship and scholarship respectively.
In 1990 I moved to Coober Pedy in South Australia because I had always wanted to try my hand at opal mining. Books by Ion Idriess on opal mining which I read in my younger days and my sons’ opals had fuelled my interest in mining. After a few years of moderate success I became partners with a Hungarian-born miner named Paul Dudas. When were working together I spent some Sundays back on my old claim because I had been finding beautiful opal in small parcels but not in profitable quantity.
Paul in his dry way convinced me to abandon this claim because it was seventy kilometres south of Coober Pedy township. He said, "You should take Sundays off, I wouldn’t even drive down to Opal Valley for a barbeque and a beer". So I heeded his advice and pulled my claim pegs. Two weeks later a friend of Paul's asked me to take him down to check out my old claim at Opal Valley which I did. As I stood before the mouth of the large walk-in mine my face turned white and I could not speak. The whole mine had collapsed, the roof caving in with sandstone blocks as large as the Great Pyramid of Cheops.
My dear old blue-cattle dog Pixie, who lived for more than fifteen years, would never come into this particular mine. She would only stand guard outside its entrance. She must have known something I did not. Paul Dudas and I did not find much opal as partners but we have started a life-long friendship which to me is far more important than becoming wealthy. I telephone him once a month and call him every Christmas day. He probably saved my life.
While visiting Venice in 1997 I was walking from the Hotel Ala to visit the large white-domed church on the Grand Canal, called "the Sacred Heart of Mary". During the long but pleasant walk I began to feel quite ill. By the time I had reached the magnificent church I was very sick. Once inside I asked a priest who was lighting incense for directions to the toilet as I needed to vomit. In good English he told me to go and talk to "Our Lady", a magnificent, large Fifth Century, gold leaf icon of the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus at the main alter. In my irreverent manner I asked Mary to help me as I was about to throw up at both ends of my body.
Then I noticed that the magnificent interior of this grand old church was festooned with paintings of old masters such as Titian and Tintoretto. I slowly walked around the walls fascinated by these wonderful works of art. Then minutes later it dawned on me that I was not feeling sick anymore. I went and thanked the priest who told me that the icon of the Blessed Virgin was well-known throughout Venice for its miraculous healings.
I am a protestant but I own and wear a beautiful opal mosaic pendant of the Virgin Mary and the Sacred Heart beautifully worked in tiny pieces of brilliant opal which a jeweller friend in Coober Pedy crafted for me more than a decade ago.
My life has been an incredible journey but I have had more than my fair share of life saving miracles. I am now a contented ‘surfing grandpa’ living on the Central Coast of New South Wales. I have had five hard-back books published and my mother has outlived two husbands and is a dynamic 91 year-old living in genteel retirement in Lane Cove. We are both blessed with good fortune and longevity.
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A SPECIAL MESSAGE OF THANK YOU FROM JOHN
A HUGE THANK YOU for purchasing my book You Can... Expect A Miracle. Sales have been fantastic worldwide.
As you know I launched the book in the USA in September and the Australian edition was released in late December.
Currently major publicity is happening in the USA and Australia and I need to ask a huge favour. If you brought the book off Amazon, Expect A Miracle website or via our flyer mailing and you have at sometime in the past purchased through Amazon, please go onto the Amazon site and post a review for the book.
Many kind souls have posted some amazing 5 out of 5 reviews. Your help in pushing this number over 100 in the immediate future would be a massive help in assisting me in the PR plan I have put in motion.
I am currently in negotiations with major TV and Media personalities who use Amazon Book Reviews as a great guide to audience acceptance.
I have recently spoken on a high traffic New York evening radio program and on Sydney's radio station 2UE one of Australia's leading radio stations. On New Year's Eve I did a very interesting half hour interview on Radio Norfolk.
Newspaper articles are starting to appear in Australian dailies and two extensive articles will be published in Japan in February in two different publications. Numerous other things are happening media wise in the USA and Australia at present and when these are confirmed, I will keep you posted.
It is amazing the number of people who are purchasing books in case lots of 60 with a 50% discount to use them as meaningful gifts for clients, family and friends.
Once again THANKS A BUNCH in advance for placing your book review on amazon.com.
Dr John Hinwood
Ph: +61 2 6674 0777
Fax: +61 2 6674 0377
"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle" - Albert Einstein