June 2001 - May 4, 2003
Bob G___ was my boss back in 1978 and 1979 when I worked at Communications Corporation of America in Boston, Va. I worked in the computer room and when SWIFT came to "hometown" Bob applied for a job with them. During his interview he gave my name as a good candidate for employment. SWIFT called me in for an interview and hired me. Bob was not hired. After I left CCA and went to SWIFT I never saw Bob again until about 15 years later when I ran into him in Walmart. Bob was in a wheelchair because his legs had been amputated as a result of diabetes. We talked for about 10 minutes and said good by.
About 5 years later sometime in June 2001 I was at the "hometown" Health Care Center visiting my father in law, Garnett Carpenter who was suffering with what started as colon cancer. As I was leaving that day I looked and there was Bob G___ sitting in his wheelchair. I walked over and we started talking. Bob and I talked about regular everyday things. While we were talking I started to get that peaceful feeling and started to feel and think about Emmitsburg. I wanted to tell him about Emmitsburg but did not know how to bring up the subject to him yet. I decided right then that I would visit him again and break the ice with the picture of Our Lady of Fatima that I took on September 23, 1998 at the Grotto of Lourdes. I said to Bob “The next time I come here I have a small gift I would like to give you” Bob said he would be looking forward to it. I decided that the picture would be the tool I would use to start talking to Bob about God.
About 2 weeks later when I visited him again I gave him the picture of Our Lady of Fatima that I took in Emmitsburg. When Bob saw the picture he was stunned and started to cry. He asked me if I was Catholic and when I said yes he said “So am I or at least I was baptized and confirmed a Catholic and I was married in the Catholic church. Son, I have been away from the church longer than you have been alive”. Suddenly I knew why I started getting peaceful feeling and started thinking about Emmitsburg a few weeks earlier when I first ran into him. I sat with Bob and we talked for over an hour about the church and how much better life is when God is in the first place. When we were finished I told Bob that with his permission I would tell Father _____ about him and he would come and pay him a visit. Bob said he would like that very much. A couple of days later I called Father _____ and told him about Bob and where he could find him.
On July 4, 2001 after mass Father _____ came up to me and said “Yesterday Robert G___ made his confession and received the Eucharist”. Father wanted to know if it would be possible for me to be the Eucharistic minister each week for Bob. I told him it would be my pleasure. The day Bob made his confession after almost 50 years and received the Eucharist was July 3, 2001. This was the 3rd anniversary of the first day I went to Emmitsburg on my way to Gettysburg for the very first time. It was on this day that I promised God that I would get my son C.R.C. baptized while standing in front of the statue of St. Therese, The Little Flower.
Several months passed and I continued to take the Eucharist to Bob each week. It made me feel very good see him make such good progress with his return to the church. One day I was talking to Bob and had just given him the Eucharist and he said “When my health gets a little better I want you to do me a big favor and take me to Emmitsburg with you” I told Bob that I would be happy to do that. About a month later Bob said he felt strong enough to make the trip. We scheduled it for the following Saturday but had to cancel it at the last minute because Bob got sick. We ended up going 2 weeks later. I wish I could remember the exact date we went but I can’t because it was before I started keeping daily notes.
On the day we went to Emmitsburg it was the first time Bob had been anywhere in a very long time. He had been confined to bed at the Health Care Center for months and was now confined to bed and wheelchair at home. He was very happy to be going somewhere. I helped Bob get in my truck, it was very difficult because we did not have the proper equipment needed to assist someone with this type of handicap and my truck was higher than Bob’s wheel chair so getting in was a uphill battle.
We drove to Emmitsburg and our first stop was St. Joseph’s. I was not keeping notes at this time so I do not remember if we arrived at 13 or 33 after the hour but I do remember that it was one or the other. I helped Bob get out of the truck and get into his wheelchair. It was easier than getting in but still very difficult. Raymond Sanders just happened to arrive as I was getting Bob in the chair and ended up helping me the entire day with Bob. We went in the church and Raymond and I gave Bob a little history of Our Lady of Emmitsburg. We then prayed the rosary together and about half way through Bob started to cry throughout the rest of the rosary. When we finished the rosary Bob asked me to push him up to the front of the church. When we got up front Bob said “Show me where The Blessed Virgin Mary appears to the lady who sees Her.” We were sitting very near the spot and I stood up and stretched out my arms in the area where Mary appears to Gianna. As soon as I did that Bob started to cry again. We then sat in the front of the church and just talked for a little while.
Raymond and I put Bob back in my truck and then the three of us rode over to the Grotto of Lourdes. Bob said he had been there years ago in the 6th, 7th and 8th grade during field trips with the Catholic school he attended. When we finished at the Grotto we said thanks and goodbye to Raymond. Bob and I started driving home. What happened while we were driving home still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it.
We were about 10 or 15 miles out of Emmitsburg when Bob said he wanted to tell me something. He said “The Blessed Virgin made Her presence known to me today while we were in the church”. I said “She did, how did She do that?” Bob said, “Do you remember when you pushed me to the front of the church and I asked where the Blessed Virgin Mary appears to the lady who sees Her and you took your arms and pointed to the spot?” I said yes. Bob then said “At the very instant you raised your arms and pointed to the spot I started to smell roses and I knew it was Mary.” At the split second that Bob finished telling me this I looked up and the clock on the dash switched to 3:33 in perfect sync with the odometer switching to 13. This told me all I needed to know.
We arrived back in "hometown" just it time to go to 6 PM mass at "Parish Church". This was the first time Bob had been to mass since his return to the church. I wish I could remember what the date was because I would ask Fr. _____ for a copy of his homily that night. In it there was a reference to God being with “the man with no legs and God being with the person who pushes the wheel chair for that man”. They might not be the exact words but it’s pretty close. After mass I took Bob home and he told me that he had just had about the most wonderful day of his life. Since this time Bob started praying the rosary daily and attends mass when possible and his wife "B______" has converted.
May 4, 2003
During the night I suddenly woke up two times. The first time was at 1:13 and the second time was 3:13. Each time I prayed for a few minutes and went back to sleep. Later in the day while I was driving over to Bobs house to take him the Eucharist I had a very sudden urge and desire to ride to Emmitsburg and spend some time at the Grotto of Lourdes. When this urge struck I glanced at my watch and it said XX:XX:33. I arrived at Bob’s house and he told me that he had been sick for the past 3 days with stomach problems. He also complained about being cooped up in the house. I asked him if he felt well enough to ride to Emmitsburg and go to the Grotto. He said that he did want to go.
We rode in Bob’s handicap van and when we got to Emmitsburg we went to St. Joseph’s first. I had to park the van on the opposite side of the church from where I usually park so we would have access to the handicap ramp that leads from the street to St. Joseph’s. Bob said “You can’t park here because the sign says Knights of Columbus ONLY.” I said don’t worry, I am a Knights of Columbus and I have my card to prove it.” I lowered the handicap ramp and was standing outside the van waiting for Bob to come out. He continued to sit in the van and I was wondering what was taking him so long. Bob then said “You will have to excuse me while I relieve myself the only way a man with no legs can.”
Upon completion Bob came out of the van and I helped him steady the wheelchair as he rolled up the handicap ramp leading from the road to the sidewalk that leads up to St. Joseph’s. When we got up to the front of St. Joseph’s Bob stayed outside while I walked in the front door to go open the handicap door which is towards the side of the church. As I walked in St. Joseph’s I was again struck with a strong sense of peace. I looked at my watch and the time was 4:33. I walked over to the handicap entrance and opened that door for Bob and he rolled in the church. The time was still 4:33.
There was nobody else in the church. We went up to the front and together we prayed the rosary out loud together. When we finished Bob continued to pray alone and I waited for him to finish. During this time I never looked at my watch. I waited for Bob to say he was ready to go. When we left we went back to the van and when I started it the time on the dash was 5:13. Bob said he was hungry and wanted to get something to eat. We went to Subway which is next door to St. Peters which is the new Catholic book store in Emmitsburg. When we finished there we rode out to the Grotto of Lourdes. Bob asked Fr. Jack to bless him and pray for him. We went through the Grotto and it was easy to see that Bob was very happy to be there. He needed a day out at some place like the Grotto after all the sickness he has been through lately. When we finished going through the Grotto I lowered the handicap ramp and Bob rolled in the van. I was not paying any attention to the time. When I started the van to leave the Grotto and start driving home the time on the dash was 7:13. We drove back to "hometown" and I took Bob home and helped him in the house. When I got in my truck to go home the odometer instantly switched to 3.3 as soon as I started moving. I drove home and pulled in my driveway at 9:33.
The clock tower at St. Joseph’s is still broken down on 6:33.
May 8, 2003