A Titanic Moment

Their lungs began to cramp as the icy water seeped through their clothes.
by Reuben Nuxoll, LC | Source:
A loving Mother brought them out alive.

It all began when Joe and Pati decided to get into an old patched-up canoe and push out onto the glassy lake.

They were high in the Rocky Mountains of Idaho, what some have called “the place most like heaven on earth.” As the Rockies tumble down into the Salmon River from the Gospel-Hump Wilderness Area, their hollows have created a score of small, pristine lakes teeming with trout.

Bridget and her parents had driven up the primitive rocky roads in July with half a dozen of her friends to go camping beneath the peaks and hike to the lakes to fish. Today they had taken an old mountaineering path to Lower Gospel Lake.

It was here that Joe and Pati pushed out and began splashing water at each other, enjoying the sunny view of the lichen-covered pines and firs clinging onto the jagged cliffs jutting out under Gospel Peak.

All of a sudden, the Styrofoam patch on the canoe let loose. The prow leaped Titanic-like into the air with Pati seated there, while Joe went under with the other end of the canoe as it slowly sank. Soon they were both in the water and Joe tried uselessly to flip the canoe over.

Their lungs began to cramp as the icy water seeped through their clothes. They tried to swim, but their clothes slowed them down. They didn’t have enough breath to attempt to take off their shoes.

As Joe urged Pati to follow, Sherry, who was on the shore, heard Pati let out a faint but playful, “I love you, Joe, but I can’t go any farther.” Joe himself wasn’t getting there very fast.

Where panic could have set in, Sherry had what seemed to be supernatural prudence and foresight. She scanned the near side of the lake: Everyone except her daughter Bridget was out of sight around a bend, and Bridget was more than 80 feet away. Their lives were in her hands.

In an instant she had dropped her fishing rod and scoured the slope for a branch. Spying a short scraggly fir that had been uprooted, she flung it into the water, stripped, and plunged in.

As Sherry swam out, her breath cut short. She did not have strong lungs, especially in cold water. But she trusted in our Lady, and she was doing this out of love.

She called out to Joe to help Pati. He only managed to gasp, “I can’t.” It was all he could do to tread his way to shore.

She said a prayer, and kept going, finally reaching Pati. She told her to grab onto the branch. Pati seemed to be shocked and numb, and Sherry repeated the plea. Pati finally laid hold, and Sherry slowly towed her along, finally making it to shore.

As they warmed back to life, Sherry told them, “Joe and Pati, we need to thank the Blessed Virgin for this.”

Pati replied, “Yeah, I was praying to her too.”


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