I think I was nine years old. My brother, Jeff (12) and I were running around my grandparents’ ranch in Nebraska, exploring, chasing cats, looking for snakes, avoiding chores…normal kid stuff. It was summertime, dusty and warm, and there were rows of huge rolled hay bales lined up and stacked near one of the barns. Expert climbers that we were, we decided to climb the bales. Once on top, we ran back and forth along the length of the rows. We leaped over the open spaces and chased each other. Suddenly my arms were stinging, scratched from the hay, and I couldn’t breath. It was dark all around me and I was inside a very small space. I looked up and saw a small patch of light. I had jumped into a space between four bales. I tried to holler, but the sound was muffled and when I tried to take another breath to call out again I just sucked in more dust. My heart was pounding and my body began to prickle. Lifting my foot I tried to climb out, but I couldn’t get it high enough to step onto the twine wrapped around the hay. Then I heard Jeff calling my name. I tried to scream but the sound came out choked. I could hear his voice getting closer and I screamed again, the sound barely making it’s way out of the hole I was in. Finally he found me. I was beginning to cry. He told me to climb out and I said I couldn’t. Then he reached his arms down the hole, grabbed hold and pulled me out.
I don’t remember much about the rest of that day other than stinging eyes and lots of coughing. I’m pretty sure we didn’t say anything to the adults either. I’m glad my brother was there with me that day, saving my life. He’s still saving lives today. Thanks, Jeff.