May 10, 2005

My Turning Point

My blogfather Grau has a post up as to why he believes in a Higher Being. People have been chiming in with their stories in the comment section. Here is mine.

It was January of 1991, I was 25, and my paternal grandfather had just died. We three kids were very close to him, so there was no doubt I would make the homeward bound trek to attend his funeral. I had a flight from West Palm to Pensacola in one of those prop planes that seats 30.

The weather was nasty and the panhandle got socked in by fog, as it is prone to do. All flights into Pensacola were canceled and the aircraft was forced to make a landing in Tallahassee. From the Tallahassee airport we could decide what to do next, take a rental car to our destination or wait for the fog to clear up.

There was no way I was waiting for a flight in the happenstance the fog might clear up in the near future, so I decided on a car rental. Time was of essence as after getting to Pensacola that afternoon, the next morning I was to make the trek to Birmingham, to the family cemetery on my father’s side, with my siblings and folks for the service and burial.

The airline was quick, got me a car and off I went, hustling through the terminal, grabbing my bags, making my way… when I noticed… two elderly ladies holding on to one another, by the airline desk. I could overhear them and there was a fright about their voices and they seemed shaken. To this day, I have no idea what possessed me to step out of my box, but I approached them and told them I would take them home.

They were surprised at first, offering to pay for the car and gas and what-not, but I assured them, it was no trouble, we were all going the same way and the airline had paid for everything. I grabbed a dolly, loaded up their bags, got them situated in the car and began the 2 ½ hour drive westward to Pensacola.

The lady in the backseat was in her 80s, looking back on it. Perhaps mid-80s and she was blind. I believe she could see well enough to write and make out figures, but she had lost her vision to something degenerative, caused by the aging of her body. She was sweet; a good Christian woman.

The lady next to me was probably in her 70s and was very chatty and, as best I can describe, ‘dotty’. Flighty as some elderly woman can be. I am sure she was a crack up to her children and grandchildren.

Neither lady knew each other before this incident. They were just two elderly ladies in an airport, bound only by age and fright, when I stumbled upon them.

The fog was thick and the drive was tense, but the company was good as they asked me to tell them stories of my grandfather. There was a peacefulness in having them in the car with me and it made the time pass quickly.

We soon approached a small town called Niceville, which is situated near Fort Walton Beach, home of Elgin Air Force Base, and one hour outside Pensacola. The dotty chatty woman next to me was actually from Niceville, so I told her I would just take her to her destination, her daughter’s home, on our way to Pensacola.

As I made the turn off I-10 into Niceville, I said, “Now how do I get to your daughter’s home?”

“Well, I don’t know,” came the reply. “I don’t know where she lives.”

I was a bit taken back, but figured I’d find a filling station and give her daughter a call. This was before cell phones. I glance in the rear view mirror at the blind woman sitting in my back seat and she rolls her eyes at me.

“Well, what’s your daughter’s phone number?” I inquired.

“Oh, I don’t have her phone number,” said the woman.

I glance in the rear view mirror again and this time the blind lady’s eyes are round as saucers as she looks horrified but the conversation transpiring before her.

I start again, “Hmm. If you don’t have her phone number, then we’ll find a filling station and I’ll look it up in the white pages.”

“She’s not in the white pages. She’s unlisted,” said the dotty and now very annoying lady sitting next to me.

I wasn’t in a panic. I was too numb. I was grieving heavily for the loss of my grandfather, the drive had been stressful through the fog and during the drive, little thoughts such as “Wow, wouldn’t it suck if I died in a car crash in the fog on the way to Granddaddy’s funeral” kept passing through my mind. On the inside, I was a churning mess of grief and despair, but on the outside, I was collected and cheerful.

For those of you who do not know Niceville, it was a small town back then, but it had it’s own high school and grade school. It was big enough to support all a few schools. It is very spread out, as the panhandle is rural, so when I say small town, I don’t want you to think it was a ‘one blinking yellow light’ town with one stop sign and no post office. It’s not THAT small. It’s just NOT big.

We were now off I-10 and I just started driving. I have no idea why. I just took a right. Then a left. Then another left. And I ended up… in this cul-de-sac. As I slowly drove though the cul-de-sac the dotty woman next to me says, “Oh! Look! There’s my daughter’s house! And there she is, out front!” and she starts waving and carrying on.

Sure enough, there was her daughter, walking outside to get something from her car.

I pulled in the driveway, unloaded her bags, put the blind woman in the front seat, and started back to Pensacola.

It was quiet for a few minutes of the drive until I got back on I-10. Finally the blind lady said to me, “What just happened back there?” I said to her, “M’am, I have no idea. No clue whatsoever.”

We didn’t speak the rest of the way back to Pensacola. She asked for my address and I knew it was so she could write me a thank you note, so I pressed it into her hands as I saw her off.

Two weeks later I received a note from her, saying she hoped the funeral went well and that she thought I was an angel sent from God. She went on to say that what happened that day was without explanation and it was only the hand of God that could have seen us through, that I had arrived to drive them when they were in despair and how I had found one small home, amongst thousands, just on impulse.

I am no angel, by any stretch of the imagination and can assure you, I have never been called one since. It's not ever been alluded to. But, that was a turning point for me. In my heart it is when I knew for sure that there is more… and for those few minutes, I was completely connected.

Posted by Boudicca at May 10, 2005 09:39 PM

Great story. I'm far FAR from an angel but it does feel really good doing something nice for a stranger now and then.

Posted by: Graumagus at May 10, 2005 10:17 PM

Wow, that's an amazing story. Your kindness allowed for you to be a vehicle for one of God's miracles.

Posted by: michele at May 10, 2005 10:25 PM

I think they were angels for you too.

Posted by: caltechgirl at May 11, 2005 12:17 AM

Bou, I agree with caltechgirl. That is a LONG drive by yourself. I think it worked well in both directions! This certainly gave me chill bumps.

Posted by: vw bug at May 11, 2005 05:25 AM

Yep, you needed the distraction they provided during that drive. I had a similar need when I flew east to west coast to see my mom in the hospital. I took our youngest daughter with to give me something to do (someone to take care of) to keep my mind from over-stressing.

As for finding the house... the best man at my wedding drove from Minnesota to Baltimore, took an exit at random, drove through a couple stop lights, and happened to spot my car parked almost a mile away down a side street. :D Gotta love it when that kind of thing happens!

Posted by: Ted at May 11, 2005 06:55 AM

Don't you kid yourself! God so fit to bless you with three boys, you are their angel and were an angel to those two women then as they were for you.

Posted by: Oddybobo at May 11, 2005 09:17 AM

What a wonderful story!! You've blessed us by sharing it, thanks!

Posted by: pam at May 11, 2005 11:07 AM

I guess I realized there is a higher being because I am so ridiculously handsome.

Posted by: Toluca Nole at May 11, 2005 03:27 PM

What a lovely story. Someone was helping you out that day.

Posted by: Jody Halsted at May 11, 2005 04:51 PM


Posted by: That 1 Guy at May 11, 2005 07:41 PM

Oh, yeah, Bou... great story! Really. Strange how things work out at times.

Posted by: That 1 Guy at May 11, 2005 07:42 PM