It was 1979 and I had a job at a computer firm processing payroll checks. My husband was at home with our two children while I worked the third shift three nights of the week.
The car I was driving, our second, was a sturdy old Plymouth Valiant, model year 1964. It ran well and had been very reliable for trips to the creek with the kids and the dog, or to town to visit a museum, for grocery shopping, and whatever else a mom and two kids were bound for in the course of a day. We never had to worry about spills or mud on the seats so the children loved it.
One night on my way home from work, at approximately 1:30 am it started to rain. By the time I reached the highway it was pouring torrents. Suddenly my windshield wipers couldn’t keep up with the deluge and visibility was absolutely null. I panicked because I remembered that the road was close to a ravine with only a very short rail along the side of it. I steered the car toward the gravel strip beside the paved road and very slowly drove until I thought that I had all of the car’s wheels off of the road and onto the strip. It was pitch black as I got out of my car to see if it was safely positioned. A chill ran up my spine. My car was just inches away from the rail.
I got back into the car and rolled down my window to try to flag someone but the traffic was moving so fast that I didn’t feel at all safe doing that so I rolled up the window. The passenger in a large truck looked straight at me laughed devilishly as it sped by. I remember feeling absolutely helpless and desperate.
Then I looked up into my rear-view mirror and instead of the terrible darkness I saw two yellow headlights approaching from behind. I remember thinking that the lights seemed to have an uncharacteristically soft yellow glow. I felt so relieved as a gentlemen, wearing a brown tweed overcoat and a hat was approaching my car. He tipped his hat as he asked, “Hello, Miss. May I help you with something?” His antiquated gesture and graceful manner were both startling and disarming. Men don’t tip or wear fedora hats these days. His skin was flawlessly smooth and pale and his eyes were the color of blue crystal. I was stunned. I told him that my windshield wipers were not working and that I couldn’t see to drive. He smiled and said, “I’ll see if I can be of assistance.” He went straight to work removing the windshield wiper blades and switching them from one side of the window to the other, and turning them so that the worn ends were at the bottom of the windshield. Then he told me to, “Try them now.” They worked perfectly well to clear the rain from the windshield so that I had visibility once again. I was astonished with simplicity of his solution to my problem. The stranger said that he was glad that he could help me and that I should take good care going home in such weather. He smiled again as he tipped his hat good-bye. I thanked him profusely and watched him as he walked to his car, got in and drove away. As his car disappeared into the darkness from which it came, I was thinking that the round and sturdy looking vehicle was a match with his manner and style of dress, as if from the era of 1950s.
Once my friend was out of sight, I became acutely aware of the intimidating highway traffic swishing by my car. And I realized that while the kind stranger was with me, how it had seemed as if we were completely alone on the highway, and that for entire time I hadn’t seen nor had I heard any traffic passing at all.
Our lives are a compilation of events that we dismiss for the most part. I didn’t know that somewhere deep in my heart was this time that I spent with my grandparents. One day it was there, this sterling moment in my life effortlessly revealing itself to me onto the pages of my little book of 50 pages.
This extraordinary experience of my childhood took place in pre-civil-rights era Virginia. As I wrote I felt warm and comforting support for a time so dear to me. Until the time of writing, I was unaware of how much meaning it brought to my life. It was written with love and a deep and ever-growing appreciation for my family. It might well have been entitled , “The Gift”.
Truth is beauty is Love
You are amazing. Create something beautiful today!