“I’m here, but the car’s not!”

“I’m here, but the car ‘s not.”

These are the words Paul spoke to me this morning when I asked how he was feeling today. He added “Maybe a little stiff, but I’m stiff every morning when I wake up.”

Yesterday Paul drove his eldest son, Jesse, to the airport to fly back to San Francisco. They parked in short-term parking and went to share a big bite at Arthur Bryant’s Barbecue. They decided not to have a beer along with their barbecue. Just before they reached the airport Paul had said to his son, the roads are safe now, don’t you think?” “You don’t need 4-wheel drive here,” Jesse agreed. I have not yet mentioned how smart Jesse is. He figures things out so fast, he leaves my jaw hanging.

They ate their barbecue and had a great conversation, according to Paul. Then they said goodbye.

Paul got back in his old 4Runner–1997, 130,000 miles– and swung out of the airport onto I-29. Minutes later I receive a call.

“I’ve had an accident,” Paul says sounding normal.

“Are you alright?”

“Yes, I’m perfectly fine.”

“Fine?”

“Not even a scratch.” He’s sounding positively cheerful. Then he lowers his voice. “The car ‘s totaled.”

“My God! Are you sure you’re okay?”

“I’m positive. There are a lot of people around me here. The car is turned over on its side.

“What happened?”

Paul tells me the first version. We discuss AAA and I go downstairs to get the insurance policy number.

A while later we talk again. Paul says, “We figured out what really happened. A piece of ice slid off the back of a truck in front of me. All of a sudden the car was shifting, skidding sideways across the highway towards the median. A farmer in a pick-up truck came along, hit the back of the 4Runner and sent it careening on its side.”

“My God! How did you get out?”

“I tried but couldn’t open the passenger door. Someone climbed on the car and was able to open the door. I hoisted myself out.”

“Paul, you were so lucky!”

“That’s what everyone’s saying.”

Luck, karma, God, who knows what to call it? My husband is safe.

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