If you read me, you know there are a few posts that have splashes of humor in them and tidbits of the funnier side of my life. Today I’m going to tell you about my brush with death, what I felt and what I can remember.
I was 16 and just driving for about six months. I loved driving and like all teenagers, I’m sure I wasnt the defensive driver like my parents were and I certainly didn’t drive with my hands at ten and two o’clock positions when my parents weren’t looking. I did speed occasionally, but for some reason that particular day, I wasnt. That I do remember.
I lived in Florida and worked about twenty miles from my home, near where my father also worked. After school several days a week, I hopped into my mothers AMC Gremlin (and no that is not funny) and drove to The Dairy Shack, where I served ice cream, made tacos and eye contact with as many cute boys as possible. While driving this day, I had just passed under the I4 overpass when I noticed ahead of me a tractor-trailer getting ready to make a right hand turn. I looked over my shoulder to my left, used my turn signal and moved into the left lane to go around the turning semi.
Little did I know that there would be a 78-year-old gentlemen in his car just sitting in the left lane, stopped. I’m cruising at 45 mph and had about one second to decide what to do.
Rear end the car in front of me
Turn the wheel to the left and go into on coming traffic
Turn the wheel to the right and go under the tractor-trailer
I really don’t remember why I chose the decision I did and those next four or five minutes have eluded me the rest of my life, but I did turn right and they tell me I did duck. My car hit a spot on the semi that holds the back-end when no cab is attached (a large leg) and miraculously, I survived in one piece. The car was destroyed, though the engine-turned over and it drove. I couldn’t believe it. The gentleman in the still car left the scene, only to be found by someone who had saw the accident and quickly returned to the place for questioning by the police. Emergency crews where there fairly fast and they let me make a call to my fathers work to let him know I had just had a fender bender (I didn’t want them to worry). My mother just happened to be there at that moment and she came to get me.
Within a few moments I found out a lot about myself that I didn’t know before that day. I was a survivor. I would take that with me the rest of my life, as a lot of you already know. I would find out how strong I really was. My mother, a very tough cookie to say the least, made me get right back in that destroyed car after the crews banged out the front end, and somehow I drove it to my father’s place of business to survey the damage. I honestly don’t remember driving that four miles to this day. I do remember what happened when I pulled that car into the parking lot and saw my fathers face.
My father, a retired officer in the Navy, never cried. Not ever. When he saw the battered car and me get out unhurt, he sobbed in front of me and held me for what seemed an eternity. My father never did that either. Emotions weren’t his strong suit and sometimes you werent sure how he felt. I knew that day and would know forever that I was loved by my dad. Right after that, he told me about something that he never shared before. His first real girlfriend was killed in a similar accident where she was beheaded and died because she didn’t duck. Even at 16 I knew how my dad must have felt this day.
It took about six weeks and the AMC Gremlin was back on the road. A different color and mended as much as possible. Only four weeks after getting that car back, I was driving home from work, where a drunk driver clipped me in my left rear end. Again unhurt, but alone with inebriated men, I reluctantly took his card as he owned a car repair shop and went once again to my fathers work. I thought everyone was good back then. I didn’t even get a plate number or drivers license.
My father saw the damage, the fear on his face once again shone like a full moon rising on the beach at night. He took me to the police station where they told me we could not file a report and we went on our way home, hoping that this little business card was valid. So, I found out I was a survivor and strong and loved but would I also be lucky? I would. He really did own a shop and the car was repaired within a few weeks. As you can imagine, my parents were scared about me driving, but believe it or not, those have been the only two accidents in my entire life and they both happened within two months of each other.
I now drive fairly slow, with no radio on to distract me and am a complete defensive driver. This makes my family nuts by the way. I worry about my 19-year-old son, who has had a few minor incidents already and hope all the time that I never have a brush with death quite like that again. I also learned back then that I would always let my children, if I had them, know how I felt about them every day. I still kiss my 26-year-old goodnight and I call my son in college every day. He lets me hug him in public and tells me he loves me back as often as he can. I snuggle with my littlest one almost every night, just not with the flute.
- My First Brush With Death (jlroeder.wordpress.com)