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As Latter-day Saints, we often speak in sweeping generalities about the Lord’s abundant love for His children, yet our experience of that love most often comes on a personal level, in the form of strength and comfort amidst our particular challenges. Such experiences are the focus of this engaging collection of true stories told by ordinary members of the Church, each testifying of the Savior’s extraordinary care for us, both as individuals and as families. Set in a variety of situations, from the familiar surroundings of home to dramatic scenes of danger, these first-hand accounts of divine love in action describe quiet affirmations as well as miraculous interventions. This second volume in the beloved series Angels Round About shows us how the Spirit brings luminous meaning to everyday moments and inspires us to seek that heavenly influence in our own daily lives.
- Pages: 168
- Size: 6 x 9
- Released: 01/2012
About the Author
Judy C. Olsen has been writing and editing for many years. She has published several books, both fiction and nonfiction, as well as many magazine articles and short stories. As a former editor for the Ensign magazine, Judy loves writing about people who live the gospel. She and her husband, Donald, live in Sandy, Utah, and have four children and sixteen grandchildren.
Snatched from the Jaws of Death
By Bill Willson
My father left our family when I was only five years old. He was an
alcoholic, but I didn’t know that until later. He received a court order
to leave his family until he was free of the addiction. From that time
on, I had a secret fantasy that Dad would one day come back—that he
would be there for me.
So when Mom and I learned of my father’s death on skid row in
Seattle, Washington, due to acute alcoholism, this secret fantasy long
stored in my then eleven-year-old heart died with him. Much to our
surprise, he had a note and a bank book in his pocket. The note named
me his sole heir. The bank account had more than three thousand
dollars in it. In recalling this as an adult, I realized that while he was
away from us for six years, all his thoughts and efforts were focused on
me and that he had sacrificed much to save that money for me.
One of my fondest, most precious little-boy memories is of my
father taking me fishing in my big red Radio Flyer wagon. We lived in
an alley off University Avenue, not far from the San Francisco Bay. Dad
loved to fish, and he took me often.
Shortly after my father’s death, I began to fish every chance I got.
One day when I was thirteen, I grabbed my fishing gear and jumped
on my bike. I headed for two barges tied up behind the Bay Meadows
Racetrack. The bay was as smooth as glass, the sun felt warm on my
face and arms, and it was a good day to go fishing. In no time at all,
I had my first fish, a fairly large Jack Smelt. I attached the fish to my
stringer, a rope with wire clips that I used to hang my catch back in the
water while I continued to fish. Because the stringer wasn’t quite long
enough to reach the water from the top of the deck, I lay down on the edge
of the barge with my head and shoulders over the edge to attach
the stringer to a cleat about a foot and a half below the main decking.
Once the stringer was in place, I baited my hook again and tossed
it over the side. I had barely settled into a rhythm again when I caught
my second Jack Smelt. This one was bigger than the first, and I was
excited to be having such a great fishing day.
Too bad there isn’t anyone here to share the day with, I thought. I
laid down on the edge of the barge, and after attaching the fish to the
stringer, I began lowering it into the water. Just then, a small ground
swell from a passing ferryboat far out in the bay came in, and the barges
slowly rose up and yawed apart as the ripple passed between them. I
was intent on my task and oblivious to the danger of the two barges
that were about to come crashing back together with enough force to
grind my puny little body into jelly.
Suddenly, from out of nowhere, a powerful force seized me and
jerked me off the deck, literally snatching me out of the jaws of death.
As this power calmly set me on my feet, I looked up into the eyes of
a gentle, old man. He spoke kindly to me. “You ought to be more
careful, son. The world is a dangerous place. Your life is precious.”
I was shaking because the last thing I remembered seeing, just
before looking into those eyes, was the two barges crunching together
just inches from my head. I turned to look back at the fateful spot.
When I returned my gaze to where the old gentleman had stood, he
was gone. He had simply vanished. There was no place for him to go
because the barges were flat and there were no solid structures above
deck. They were moored at the edge of a forty-to-fifty-acre, flat, empty
parking area next to the racetrack. I couldn’t see anyone around.
Over the years, I have often thought back on that event. I was
not a member of the Church then, and I didn’t know what to think.
In my fright, I didn’t get a very good look at the man, but I’ll never
forget those blue-gray eyes looking down at me while he explained how
fragile mortality is. I had seen those same eyes looking at me when I
was a little boy, when my father had lived with us. And I continue to
see them looking back at me every time I look in the mirror.
When I was seventeen, I joined the Church, but I didn’t become
deeply converted until I was twenty-five. Then decades passed.
Although I have never again actually seen the man who rescued me,
I have sometimes felt someone has been there for me at times when
I have needed help. During my years in the navy and later when I
worked in construction, I sometimes experienced danger. I remember
several times when I had close calls with life-threatening circumstances,
but no harm came to me.
After many years, I began doing family history work, and the day
came when I went to the temple to do the work for my father. I have
often wondered if one reason I had been saved that day on the deck
was so I could do the work that brought saving ordinances to him and
other family members.
My childhood secret fantasy that my dad would one day come
back—that he would be there for me—has now come full circle. In my
heart, I believe we have been there for each other. I know he saved my
life that day. And I also feel that, in a very special way, I have helped
Bill Willson was born and raised in the East Bay area of San Francisco,
California. As an active member of the League of Utah Writers, his genre
preference is as eclectic as is his taste in literature. After Bill retired from
a career in land engineering, he obtained a degree in English from Utah State University.When his wife, Marjorie, retired, the couple served a two-year proselytizing mission to Mexico City, Mexico. The Willsons have seven children, twenty grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.