The Miracle

It could be said that I was too young at the time to have any memory of this incident. And yet I do remember a few little pieces – which I shall recount. The rest of the story is as it was told by my mother – many, many times. This is the story of “The Miracle”.

My mother always gave full credit to my grandmother for said miracle – and my grandmother always graciously accepted the credit. I have many times wondered whether this didn’t irritate God more than just a little bit, since I have always been under the impression that miracles are His exclusive province.

The time was summer of 1935, give or take a little. Many new Yorkers were in the grip of anxiety due to the latest outbreak of Polio – referred to much of the time back then, as Infantile Paralysis. Schools, movie theaters, public swimming pools and sports arenas were all closed, since the method of transmission of this frightening illness – which affected many more children than adults – was unknown. One of my playmates, a boy who lived just down the street, had just recently been stricken.

I woke up in the middle of the night, screaming in pain and calling for my mother. I do remember the pain – in the back of my neck and head. My mother was immediately alerted to the fact that this event was most unusual: I never woke up during the night; I was ordinarily rather stoic about pain; and I never screamed. I remember my father carrying me into their room and placing me in their bed.

I remember nothing more until some time in the following evening. I opened my eyes and saw my parents and my uncles standing at the foot of the bed looking at me. I recall unaccustomed somber expressions. Someone said to my mother “Where’s Mom?” She responded, “Down in the basement, praying.” And that’s about all I remember.

Following are the events as they were reported to me when I grew a little older.

Immediately after being placed in my parents’ bed, I fell into a deep sleep and was not moving. The doctor was summoned and arrived at first light. He was concerned that because of the extreme pain I had experienced, my high temperature, and by then, my total unresponsiveness, that I had come down with Polio. He notified the Board of Health. The two doctors who were dispatched arrived later that morning. They confirmed the diagnosis and placed our house under quarantine, posting a notice on our front door. My Grandmother, Jenny, immediately gathered up her Bible and her Mary Baker Eddy books and disappeared into the basement.

By the time the doctor visited the following day, my temperature was normal, the pain was gone, I was alert and oriented – and asking for ice cream. The doctor, amazed, contacted the Board of Health. The Board of Health doctors were adamant in their affirmation of the initial diagnosis, and returned to examine me. They agreed that I appeared to be in absolutely fine health.

My family doctor (it runs in my mind that his name was Ridgeway – not that it matters any at this point) called it “a miracle”. The Board of Health doctors, no doubt just as pleased, but more scientific perhaps, officially reported it as “an abortive case of Polio”. The consensus was that my own immune system had kicked in and overcome the disease.

That was the way my mother reported the incident through the years whenever a Health History was required by a doctor or any medical professional.

But neither she, nor my Grandmother, would ever believe that my immune system could possibly have pulled that off by itself without my Grandmother’s determined intervention from the basement. No sir – make no mistake. It was Jenny’s Miracle!

Jeannie Peck
Southbury, CT © 2013

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