On 10 January 1969, my life abruptly changed. I certainly hadn’t intended to make any changes. I was not active in the Church and was a heavy smoker and drinker; in fact, I had reached the point where I felt unable to function without alcohol. I enjoyed the companionship of my drinking buddies, and the alcohol numbed my senses, making it seem easier to deal with life’s challenges.
But on that January day I did some quick reevaluation of my life. At work I was removing the rind from slabs of bacon with a five-inch boring knife and accidentally sliced a deep cut in my thigh. I started for the door, trying to remove my belt and cutting tools, and fainted before doing either. Co-workers carried me out to the loading dock, placed me in the company truck, and sped off to the hospital. I was losing a great deal of blood, and one man rode in back with me, applying constant pressure to the cut.
Midway to the hospital, we passed over a rough section of railroad tracks, and he was thrown down. By the time he regained his footing and could assist me again, we were both sure I was going to die. Although I was alert, I became extremely cold. I felt and saw a blackness settle over me, and I became very frightened.
I’m dying, I realized. I thought of my wife and children. I can’t die now. I have too much to do.
Right then I determined that if I were spared, I would repent and set my life in order. Immediately the cold I felt was replaced by a satisfying warmth in my body. The darkness fled, and I drifted into sleep. I later learned that more than once I came close to dying on the operation table, yet the doctors were able to save me and my leg.
When I awoke that night, I saw the moon shining through the window. I wept as I thought of my second chance. I felt a strong desire to pray—a foreign feeling to me. I couldn’t kneel, but I poured my heart out to my Heavenly Father. I thanked him for all he had given me and for his patience and mercy.
With the help of a supportive wife and an outstanding bishop, I began making changes I’d never imagined I would make. After being released from the hospital, I attended church with my family. I studied the scriptures and read other Church books as well.
I was ordained a priest and then an elder. Eventually our family went to the temple, where we were sealed for time and eternity.
Other blessings followed. My wife, who had battled with cancer, rheumatic fever, and several other debilitating health problems, felt better than she had felt in years. I had suffered from a hearing loss for most of my life. After much fasting and prayer, I underwent surgery that restored most of my hearing.
My whole life became more peaceful, more enjoyable, more worthwhile. The more I learned and grew, the more I prayed, thanking God for the most fortunate accident of my life.