The View From Wisconsin

Just a random set of rants from a Sports Fan from Wisconsin.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Angels Watching Over Me

I have had my share of "oh my" moments in my life. Some of them I'd like to forget (see the post about the vending machine at the hospital, for example); some of them I will always remember.

One of those moments was on a typical dreary Wednesday night back in about 1984 or 1985. I didn't have a car anymore – that had been totalled out in an accident months after I got my license, but that's another story (and another "I'd like to forget this" moment). So, in order to get to my teen age bible study at church, I had to use my dad's car.

I'd been going to Calvary Memorial Church in Racine for about a decade at that point. First, it was just Sunday school; it changed into youth group stuff and church outings and such. This particular night, I really didn't have a ride, so I was stuck having to drive myself with my dad's car.

I say "stuck" a bit tongue-in-cheek, because my dad owned a Cadillac at the time. Unfortunately, it's not the kind of Cadillac that you're thinking. It was the much-maligned Cadillac Cimarron – the "compact" Cadillac of the day. And it was more than worth of the scorn it received. Aside from the quality issues, the thing was nothing more than a souped-up Chevy Cavalier with a Caddy-style grille and some "luxury" touches like a custom sound system and power leather seats. What was worse, my dad had already been in an accident with the car months after he had purchased it – another car had slammed into his rear quarter panel, requiring replacement not only of the fender but of the rear door.

Still, for the day it was a pretty nice car, and it was a whole lot better than what I usually drove – which was my stepmother's AMC/Renault Alliance. Exactly how or why I had my dad's car, I don't really remember. I do remember that the day had been a typical February night. That means it was cold but it was warming up – which would mean snow. Racine being located close to Lake Michigan, that also meant that the snow could be mixed with rain. That was exactly the case when I got out of the Bible study that evening.

I remember pulling on to Washington Avenue and heading west towards a post-meeting get-together at a pizza place (which no longer exists) further out and closer to home. As I got to the first set of stoplights from the church, there was a semi ahead of me, and I wasn't too thrilled with having to deal with road spray from the trailer. So, I pulled alongside on the curb side of the road to wait for the light to change. Washington was four lanes at that point, and became a divided boulevard as it headed out towards I-94.

I wasn't as concerned about the weather at that point, though I noticed that it was getting a little slippery. The light finally changed, and I pulled out ahead of the semi, ostensibly to pull ahead so I wouldn't have to deal with slush coming from his wheels. I just got clear of his front end when I saw the Suburban come sliding through the intersection.

There's always been talk about how time slows down for you when something like this happens. Truth is, my brain didn't catch up with reality until after I had already pulled to the side and into the recently-closed gas station across the street. The cross-street ran downhill, so it was likely that he tried to stop but slid through the intersection. I hit him in his right-rear quarter panel, and he fishtailed a bit before coming to a stop about a quarter-block north on Ohio (the name of the cross street).

The car was still driveable, as was obvious by the fact that I could pull into the gas station. I don't remember much after that, other than calling the police from the other gas station across the street where the Suburban ended up pulling into its driveway. There was also the call to my dad (via the phone in the station, in these pre-cell phone days), a short accident interview with the officer, and all the fun of dealing with an accident of this nature. The bumper had done its job and prevented any major damage, but the front end was now a half-inch closer to the back bumper. My dad would get a new car shortly after this one was repaired, but that was also another story.

There was one other thing about this accident that I can't forget: one of the best things about my dad's car was that it was the one car we had that actually had a cassette tape player. I loved it, because I could listen to my favorite artists when I was driving. This was back in the days prior to there being a radio station for practically every listening style and taste, and way back before "CD" or "MP3" came into being. And, because my favorite music wasn't exactly mainstream – contemporary Christian music was in its relative infancy back then – I was estatic that I could listen to my recently-purchased tape of my favorite artist.

Right as I pulled into the gas station after the accident, there was a song playing. That song was off of a new album, Straight Ahead, by Amy Grant. The second verse is very telling:

God only knows the times my life was threatened just today

A reckless car ran out of gas before it ran my way

Near misses all around me, accidents unknown

Though I never see with human eyes the hands that lead me home

Still I know they're all around me, all day and through the night

When the enemy is closing in I know sometimes they fight

To keep my feet from falling, I'll never turn away

If you're asking what's protecting me, then you're gonna hear me say

Got His angels watching over me, ev'ry step I take

Angels watching over me

Got His angels watching over me, ev'ry move I take

Angels watching over me

Yes, I know it sounds trite, but I think it was a message for me. And it's one I'm not going to soon forget.

Since this happened, I'd thought about somehow telling or writing Amy about what happened. I vaguely remember, in the 14-some years that I've been on these Internets, of posting this to an Amy Grant mailing list, but that was likely years and years ago. It just came back to mind last night.

I doubt Amy reads blogs from sports fans based out of Wisconsin (even if it does have the occasional tidbit about the Predators and Nashville), but at least I've put this up here for someone to see.