Mother says prayer, pin helped in time of need

By Lynn R. Parks

A week after her son was struck in the head by a golf club and slipped into unconsciousness, Jennifer Eskridge affirms the power of prayer. “People might think that I’m crazy, but I think that the power of prayer and the angel pin kept him safe,” says Eskridge, relaxing in her living room with her three children. The angel pin which she credits with helping her son survives is sitting on the arm of a sofa. Tarnished and missing some parts, the metal, nearly 2-inch pin was discovered in the dirt while Jeffrey Holston Jr., 4, was being loaded onto the Delaware State Police helicopter at Nanticoke Hospital, Seaford. Jeffrey’s brother Derrick Eskridge, 8, found the pin and gave it to their sister, Kelsey Eskridge, 10, who gave it to their mother. Not quite two hours earlier, Derrick, frustrated because the golf club he was swinging in a vacant lot near his home always hit the ground instead of the ball, swung extra hard. The club, with all the force he could give it, smashed into Jeffrey’s head, causing a skull fracture. “I was in the house helping Kelsey with her homework,” Jennifer Eskridge says. “I heard Derrick scream, then I heard him yell, ‘Run faster.’ I was running, then Jeffrey put up his head. All I could see was blood dripping everywhere.” While she cradled Jeffrey, Kelsey and Derrick tried unsuccessfully to call 911. Their mother, taking the phone from them, managed to punch in the right numbers, but had to surrender the phone to a neighbor, who gave information to the emergency call center. “I just remember someone taking the phone from me,” Eskridge says. The Seaford Volunteer Fire Department ambulance took Jeffrey and his mother to Nanticoke Memorial Hospital. Eskridge’s grandmother, Shirley Kirkland, Laurel, followed with Derrick, who was “an emotional mess,” his mother says, and Kelsey. In the emergency room, Jeffrey was responding to his mother’s questions. Suddenly, he was unable to give correct answers. By the time the helicopter arrived, he was unable to move his right side and was responding to nothing but pain. Medical workers told his parents that pressure on his brain, caused by a depression in his skull, was causing problems. When Derrick, watching Jeffrey being loaded onto the helicopter, saw the pin in the dirt, he immediately thought that it could benefit his brother. “He knows that angels help,” his mother says. “He believes in guardian angels.” Eskridge kept the pin with her while she drove to Christiana Hospital near Wilmington. Jeffrey’s father, Jeffrey Holston Sr., had gone to the hospital in the helicopter. By the time Eskridge arrived at Christiana Hospital, a Cat scan had shown that the brain swelling caused by pressure from Jeffrey’s broken skull was gone. Scheduled surgery was cancelled and the life support machinery doctors at Nanticoke had put Jeffrey on was removed. In the intensive care unit, Jeffrey, still unable to open his eyes, gave his dad a thumbs-up sign. On Wednesday morning, not 48 hours after being hit, Jeffrey came home. He has to stay home from his day care for four weeks and avoid running and jumping — as much as is possible for a 4-year-old — for eight weeks, while the fracture heals. Jennifer Eskridge says that she is thankful for the medical staff at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital and at Christiana Hospital, as well as for the volunteers with the Seaford Volunteer Fire Department. She is also thankful that Jeffrey’s pediatrician, Dr. T. Anthony with the A. I DuPont Children’s Clinic in Seaford, called her husband home to stay with their children so that she could be with Jeffrey at Nanticoke. In addition, Eskridge is grateful that her neighbors, the names of whom she does not know, were helpful when Jeffrey was hit. She is also grateful that so many of them have visited since his return home. As for the tarnished angel pin, she has no doubt about its future. She plans to keep it.

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