Henry A. Bemis


How My Wife Saved My Life At Myrtle’s Wedding

Feb. 1928

The morning of the 15th of June dawned clear and bright. The year was 1909, a date long to be remembered. The birds were caroling their morning songs and the scent of the wildflowers was in the air. It promised to be a very happy day for all of us, for my daughter was to be married in the evening to Charles A. Porterville.

The wedding was to take place under a large spreading tree just in front of the house – a box elder my wife had brought from the river when it was but a tiny seedling. One hundred and fifty guests had been invited. A happy but very busy day was drawing to a close. The guests from a distance had begun to arrive. Melvin, my eldest son with his bride whom we had never before seen had just come. The tables were set under the trees for the wedding supper and were to be lighted with Chinese lanterns. Place cards had been printed by a life-long friend of the family.

While everyone was enjoying himself with conversation and laughter as befitting a wedding, my younger son Byron with his lady drove up and offered to take me for a short ride. The car was well filled so I stood on the running board.

The lady who had my son for an escort was running the car and had not yet learned to run it steadily. We were gliding along merrily in the cool of the evening and had gone half a mile when all at once without warning, just like going to sleep, I fell to the ground.

A blood vessel had burst in my brain, paralysis going to my right side. The young lady who had been driving the auto thought she was to blame for her wobbly driving and pillowing my head in her lap they drove to the house. All this time I was unconscious and can only imagine a dark cloud that over-shadowed the wedding party as I was carried in and laid on the lounge.

My wife had always wanted to be a trained nurse to follow the footsteps of Eliza Ann Hadlock, her mother who had saved many a life and comforted many a home while pioneering in Minnesota and North Dakota when no doctor was to be had; but I prevented that laudable ambition by up and marrying her. What was she to do? Here was a case that would tax the mid of the best of trained nurses. Just falling to the ground from an auto in motion could not produce results like this. He must have had as “stroke”. In that case she must have ice. We were miles from Cooperstown. None of the neighbors had brought up any ice. Must Henry, once her beloved, die at Myrtle’s wedding. God forbid! Hastening to the cellar she quickly returned with hands filled with ice dripping with salty water. This she packed around the base of my brain and phoned for the doctor. We had ordered a can of ice cream for the wedding feast – hence the ice.

Then came days of struggling back to life – days of intense suffering and anguish; when I could move my right side; when I could make my wants known by mumbled words; when I knew for the first time I had been paralyzed by struggling to my feet and came near knocking my wife through the window by falling…

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