Anniversary of Miracle on the Mountain

A week after the somber anniversary of Sept 11th we have another, more uplifting one to mark.  One year ago today Mary Alice picked up Leela and I and took us for a drive,  here is MA’s version of what transpired:

Go tell it on the mountain

Tuesday- I spent the day with Leela and offered Tom a change of scene if he felt up to a ride in the afternoon.  Tom called at 1 and Leela popped up like a piece of toast from the ‘pink bed’ where I was trying to put her down for a nap.  Like Goldilocks, Leela bounces from bed to bed at naptime till she finds the one that is just right.  She said ‘blue bed’ and off we went to try and nap in another room.  I tucked her in, read her ‘ The Song of the Day Birds and the Night Birds’ 3 or 30 times before she pointed to the door and said ‘close the door.’  Obediently, as always with anyone who carries 1/10th of my body weight I closed the door and went downstairs to mop my floors.   About an hour later she called down “Cuckoo, come up here” – I did as commanded and she popped up again and said “get up now” and so we put on our shoes and went to pick up Daddy.

Tom–you had no spark that day; when I talked to you it was like dropping pennies in a well.  As we drove up the parkway I remembered what it was like to have no spark, I wanted to take you someplace that might shift your perspective so I took you up Perkins Drive at Bear Mountain.  It is a holy place–my granddaughter bursts into spontaneous choruses of America the Beautiful when we drive up–and  over the years I have taken friends from other states whose visions of New York are the 5 boroughs, Long Island and Buffalo.  They are ready to drop to their knees as they look over the Hudson River to the mountains beyond, shifting from greens to gray to violet with the ghost of Manhattan more a mirage than an image in the far distance.

We drove up the long drive and parked the car.  I asked if you felt up for a walk out on the rocks (from the lot you can not see much more than bald rock, grasses and trees), you said yes–but your eyes still reflected the flat black, pinpoint pupils of someone in the dark place.  I took Leela’s hand as we stepped out to the rock and it was only when we had walked out to the first ledge that the true magnificence of the valley below was visible.  I waited for your breath of ‘ah’, for your pupils to open, for the shadow to move, but before the magic happened we saw the backs of 2 women and one man on the ledge below us.  They spun around to face us and called out in Louis Armstrong, fire and brimstone voices “Raise up your arms, raise them up” and in shock we did, even Leela.  There was man carrying a long twisted ram’s horn  with flags hanging off it and 2 colorfully dressed women waving thick, heavy, well thumbed bibles in our direction.   I passed a sidelong glance your way wanting to follow your lead, I am usually game for any experience but this day was about you.  You stood there arms raised as though you were being held up at gunpoint; your eyes closed as they yelled out in earthshaking voices.

“There are no coincidences in the world, we are here to heal YOU;” and they pointed their hands at you Tom, right at you. “The cancer will leave your body,” the woman in bright yellow called pointing her bible filled hand at you.  The man blew the horn – echoing blasts.  “Go to your doctor tomorrow and he will tell you that you are healed.” (I was briefly and selfishly disappointed because I had a kick ass case of poison ivy and she didn’t mention me at all.)  She turned to man and called out; ‘Read us some scripture” and he obliged with words that blew off in the wind.

There were people on the rocks behind us who could not see the strange group below us–they only saw us with our arms raised; you, by then, with tears streaming down your face, eyes shut tight; and me misty with empathy.  One man caught my eye and raised his brows in wonder.  Leela, little arms raised kept her composure as the bystanders heard the voices praising Jesus and the bellowing of the ram’s horn, audible, yet invisible.  The 3 then climbed up the rocks to you, one waving a bottle of oil in your face wanting to anoint you the as the others reached over to lay hands on you.  We begged them to please not touch you; the man said to the two women, “They don’t understand this is Jesus healing” while the yellow woman asked, “Do you got to church?”   “This is church.” was your reply.  “You will see your little girl grow up to be a woman” she said as the one with the oil broke role as healer for a minute and said as she held out the bottle, “see, it’s just olive oil.”  You thanked them and sent them on their way.

As they receded you turned to me and said “Nice set up M.A.” – I said “Tom, you can’t make stuff like this up.”  You said, “It was olive oil, Bertolli, not even organic,” and we both laughed, self consciously, like we were caught in a shared dream.  “Holy Bertolli.”  We were pretty quiet on the way home.

There was a miracle on the mountain for me that day, many miracles in fact.  To be standing in September’s sunlit splendor on a mountaintop knowing that what I was looking at that moment is what will endure–not our troubles which will pass as surely as we will pass.  It is the earth that will remain, whole and green and beautiful.

To be there with you Tom–you, who could easily not be there except for the many other miracles that diagnosed and saved you.  For the courage of the three believers testifying their absolute faith in their vision of the divine on your behalf; it doesn’t matter what we believe, only that we do believe.  How do we explain their timing, coincidence, the divine plan, chaos or chance?  How did they know you were sick?  There are a lot of skinny bald guys on earth.  (Ok, it’s not cancer.  It’s aplastic anemia- who knows what that is in the general public?  Aplastic anemia sounds like something a 10 year old in 1964 would have on their Christmas list along with a Slinky.)  And Tom, what did the Dr. say when you went the next day?

I will push a button on this silver box sitting on the table in front of me and these words will pass through the ether and wind up on little boxes in front of you and other people.

The sun is coming up. Everything is a miracle.

–Mary Alice Hohenberger, September 19, 2010

About tomkelley
Counselor, facilitator at LifeLeadersForum, father of a little angel and husband of a Goddess

3 Responses to Anniversary of Miracle on the Mountain

  1. What a wonderful story. Perhaps the cancer they saw eating at you was the one in your mind. Darkness in the mind and heart can be more insidious than any disease of the body. Miracles do happen. You are proof and my daughter is proof. I have no idea how or why they happen, but I accept and celebrate.

  2. Shawn says:


  3. kayni says:

    I have to admit, having aplastic anemia, is like having a cancer in the mind. I have aplastic anemia and on the road to being treated – my doctors are still trying steroids for now. I do feel alone with this condition and it’s great to find your blog and find hope and healing.

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