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Bob Skelding - The Healing Begins
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Feb/14/mississippi_map.jpgIt is not unlike folks to characterize the actions of the citizens of Kemper and Noxubee County, Mississippi as angels, in the aftermath of the collision that injured Bob Skelding and killed two of his four Percheron horses. But, after talking to several people who were at the scene, seconds after the melee began, I have come to see that these folks are not other-worldly; they are just good county folk who performed at their best when things were at their worst.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Feb/14/Kemper_County_Map.jpgThe portion of southbound U.S. Highway 45, on which the collision occurred, is about one mile outside Noxubee County into Kemper County, Mississippi. This section of rural Mississippi has the distinction of being twenty minutes to or from just about anywhere; so medical assistance, either by road (for EMT/Ambulance) or by Helicopter (to a major trauma center) may be unequal in distance but are equal in time.Those of us who write about events in the news never set out to ‘be’ part of the story; however, on this fateful Tuesday, Macon Beacon publisher, Scott Boyd, became an important part of the survival of two of Bob’s horses, Joyce and Doc.As Scott put it, “…when I got to the scene, I saw the two horses lying under the wagon debris; and then I saw them move a bit, so I went over to take a look.. A Kemper County Deputy Sheriff (Jeff Jowers) was standing over near the road and I told him that we need to get them horses up out from under the wagon. There were about twenty people standing around, most of them bigger than me, and I thought we could just lift the trailer off the horses. The horses still had their harnesses on, so I thought we could control them. The deputy looked at me and said, ‘…are you out of your mind? We’re probably going to have to shoot those horses'.Scott has known the deputy for many years and was adamant when he looked back at the deputy and said, “you had better not shoot those horses… there isn’t going to be any shooting out here today!”Another person at the scene, Ms. Elaine Jewell, of Macon, Mississippi, was on her way to a medical checkup, (following a heart attack she suffered in December) when the accident occurred.Ms. Jewell said “…I called her (the 911 operator) and told her that we needed to get a vet out here right away, and she told me that ‘there was no need; the horses were all dead’, and then hung up the phone.” Ms. Jewell went on to say, “… there was a lady about ten cars back who raises horses…she called the 911 operator and told her that we needed to get a vet out here also, but the 911 operator told her the same thing she told me and then hung up on her. We all tried to tell her that we could see that two horses were alive, but she just wouldn’t listen.”I contacted the veterinary office of Dr. Billy Calvert to learn the status of Joyce and Doc. His assistant Cathy told me, “they’re (Joyce and Doc) doing great. They had sutures to close the wounds they received from the accident, but now they’re out grazing. They’re pretty big horses; I had to lead them from the front to the back, and if you didn’t lead one, the other wouldn’t go anywhere.” And so the healing has begun.I spoke to Bob’s sister, Cathy Fagen, on Friday to ask how she and the family is coping and what she thought of all the support being thrust in Bob’s direction. She said, “I was driving back from trying to gather some of Bob’s things (at the accident site), and it occurred to me that if something ever happened to me I could only think of a couple of dozen of people – outside of my children – that would even care something happened. When I look at all the emails, and calls, and folks that have been in contact and I’m just in awe”. She went on to say, “…my little gate keeper here at the hospital told me, ‘honey, your brother is more popular than Oprah when she was here’; I had no idea Bob was this popular”So what makes men like Bob Skelding and Ron Dakotah so popular? At the end of the day, they are just slowly traveling down a road minding their own business; so what’s the draw?I asked another wagon-teamster (who has been traveling on the road for the last twenty-six years) Ron Dakotah, his take on why so many people are moved to see the man in the wagon. “…our (Bob and Dakotah) life is a magnet to people who are trapped in the life they ‘have’ to live. They come along and say ‘you are living my life’. So, what I have come to understand that to mean is, it gives people hope to know someone can indeed live as we live; and maybe someday they can to. We’re kind of place-holder for their dreams.”Ms. Fagan was quick to let me know that the family would not violate Bob’s privacy by discussing the nature or extent of his injuries; however she would state that he is in serious and stable condition. One thing that she would say was how much she and the family have come to appreciate the people of Mississippi. “…the people of Mississippi offer from what they have to give, and I believe my brother is here today because of them, and nothing else matters except that my brother is alive in that (hospital) bed in there, and we’re grateful.”We look forward to hearing of Bob’s return to health and to learn if he will continue the journey he started in August, 2008. In the meantime, prayers are being offered daily for Bob, and those of us who stand along the roadside and cheer the men in the wagon are cheering still; God’s speed to good health and safety for the journey ahead.