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45 minutes from death

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By Ken Begley

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send?  Who will go for us?  “Here I am,” I said:  “Send me!”

Isaiah Chapter 6: Verse 8

Have no doubt.

God is listening to you.

He does answer prayer.  

Most of the time he answers these prayers through people living around us.  They are the few that answer the call of the Lord when he asks, “Whom shall I send?”

The following story is clear evidence for anyone that doesn’t believe.  It’s a story of grave danger, two elderly local residents and the woman who saved their lives.

There’s a sweet little old lady in Springfield in her 70’s who lives with her pet dogs.  She’s a true lover of all animals great and small.  She doesn’t have any kids but Margaret always had an active and happy life.

Over the years she developed a deep friendship with another couple.  The husband is 82 and his wife is 80.  They have a large family with nine kids, 26 grandkids, and six great grandkids.  Add in all the son- and daughters-in-law of all the families and you have another 14 people.  Most have moved away from Washington County.

Though their lives are totally different, they became really good friends over the years.

In fact, saying they were good friends is an understatement.  They came to know each other’s lives and normal schedules better than anyone else.  All are what I would call a “young” old age.  They’re very independent and get around just fine, thank you.  They would visit several times during the week, but at a minimum call each other every day just to check up and make certain everything was OK.  It always was.

That is until last Monday, Jan. 12.

Margaret made her usual call that day.  But there was no answer.

I’m sure she thought they must have just stepped out for a while.

So she called later.

Still no answer.  She started to get concerned.

So she called again, and again, and again.

Margaret knew the elderly couple’s schedule.  They should be at home.  Why no answer?

She zipped up and drove across town to their house on that cold day.

The elderly couple’s car was there and the door of the house was open.  

She ventured in and saw no one.  So she proceeded through the house.

She wasn’t prepared for what she found.  

The husband was blacked out  while sitting in a chair in his little office.  His wife was lying in her bed, though able to speak, she was unable to move.

Margaret didn’t know it at the time, but they were victims of the silent killer, carbon monoxide.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that comes from faulty furnaces or the exhaust of cars.  

Most houses have smoke detectors, but few have carbon monoxide detectors.  This couple didn’t.

The house was filled with the gas. Margaret was confused, as anyone would be, as to what was happening.  She called  a son and daughter-in-law that lived about four miles away.

The daughter-in-law thought she detected the smell of gas in the house.  The son called 911 while she draped her mother-in-law’s arms around her shoulder, hugged her up and walked her from the bedroom to the door leading out of the house.    

The son on the phone looked across at what was happening as they passed by.  He never felt so glad that he had married that woman taking his mother to safety.

Margaret brought a chair outside to sit her friend in.

The daughter-in-law yelled to her husband, “You’ve got to get your dad out.  He’s still back there.”

He finished with the 911 call and headed back for his father.

He couldn’t wake him up.  Fortunately the chair his father had sat in was an office chair with wheels on it.  The son and daughter-in-law held his legs up and rolled him to the door.  

The police, EMTs, and fire department arrived shortly thereafter.  

The son and daughter-in-law were heading toward their van to follow the ambulance when the son locked eyes with Margaret.  The woman’s concern, love and friendship with his parents saved their lives that day.

He hugged and kissed her and said “We’ve got it from here.”  He then jumped in the van and they were off behind the ambulance.

Dr. Keeling-Brown told the son at the hospital that the levels of carbon monoxide were so high in the house that if they had arrived 45 minutes later both would have been dead.  

The couple recovered and three days later they were back home.  

The son asked his mother, who had remained conscious during the whole event, what had happened.  She said she was feeling lightheaded after lunch and thought it was something they ate.  That was really the beginning of the carbon monoxide effects.  She went to lie down on her bed.  Later she found she couldn’t move her body, which was another effect of the poisoning that was now advancing through her system.  

She yelled for her husband to help her out of the bed, but by that time he was also suffering advanced stages of this silent killer.  He couldn’t lift her out of bed and went to his little office to call someone for help.  He blacked out the moment he sat in a chair in another room about 20 feet away.

His wife yelled for help many times, not knowing what had happened to her husband of 60 years who had never failed her.

She told the son that she then prayed to God telling him, “I’ve done all that I can do.  I leave it in your hands.  Please send someone to help us.”

God heard that cry of help from one of his own.

He then sent Margaret.  You know the rest.

It’s all true.  

How do I know it?

Because the elderly couple are my parents, Maurice and Isabelle Begley. The son and daughter-in-law are Cindy and myself.

The rescuer was Margaret Pinkston.

What do you say to someone who saved not just one, but both your parents’ lives?

I don’t know.

She’s one of God’s own who was handpicked to lead a rescue.  

I said originally that Margaret was a friend of my family.

That’s not true.

She is family.

We will never forget.