Normally when one thinks of angels, they don’t think of West Virginia! Nevertheless, my husband, Chip, and I often do. We had just spent an adventurous night in Chip’s parents’ house, on our way from our childhood home of Rockville, MD, to the Midwest and college. The plan was that Chip would resume classes there, I would join him, and we would graduate together. Ahhh…that sounded so romantic!
In the car, we were making good progress in our trek to Missouri. Feeling hungry, we stopped for lunch. I was ravenous! So, we ate a good, filling meal and contentedly settled back into the hot car. Summer was well on its way that May. It wasn’t long before the combination of lack of sleep the night before, the heat, and my full stomach conspired to make me unbearably drowsy. So, I leaned over to my new husband and informed him I was going to take a brief nap on his lap, if that was OK with him. “Sure”, he said jovially. “I’m fine!” So, I stretched along the bench front seat, laying my head contentedly in his lap and was out in no time. This was in the days before compulsory seat belt use.
“We did it!” This was floating into my consciousness, as a ruder sound invaded my mind at the same time – a crashing, crunching sound, accompanied by fierce shaking. I was confused. “What?! I yelled. “What did we do?!” Whatever it was, I was not favourably impressed by it, nor could I fathom what I could have been involved in doing, since I, just a moment ago, was sound asleep!
It was not long before I realized that ‘it’ was a bad car accident. Apparently, the same combination which sent me to sleep had the same effect on hubby and before he was aware of what was happening, his head was nodding. We had hit a newly customized van, sending the driver flying strapped firmly to his nice customized seat, through the air. We came to a rather abrupt stop at the end of a guard rail, which was driven solidly into the engine. That huge big engine probably saved my life as it prevented the guard rail from entering the car and impaling me as my head lay on hubby’s lap.
An ambulance soon arrived (I had no idea how) and we were whisked away to a nearby hospital to be checked. Miraculously, neither one of us was badly hurt (nor, we heard later, was the driver of the van, though he was understandably furious!). We spent the night in the hospital in separate hospital rooms. How I missed my new husband!
At some point along the highway, before the ambulance shuttled us away, a lady had somehow materialized and was fussing over us, seeing to this and that and trying to answer the best she could, our confused questions. She appeared again at the hospital, consoling, and again seeing to details when we were too confused to be of any help to hospital staff. She informed us that our car had been towed and was being safely stored at a garage, along with all our stuff – remember, we were moving halfway across the country and everything we owned in the world was stuffed in that car!
The next day, this same lady came to see that we were all right. By this time, we had managed to get a hold of our parents and my parents were on their way to come collect us and our stuff and take us the remaining way to Missouri, where they would help us move into our apartment, and stay a few days to be the first guests of our married lives.
But who was this lady who kept appearing, who took care of so many details when we had no idea what to do, how, or when? To us, she seemed like an angel, sent to succour us in our great time of need – a total stranger who cared greatly about us. Why? We had no idea.
Indeed, it turns out she was not literally an angel, but a very real flesh and blood woman, who happened to have been passing just as the accident had happened. She, being a Christian, took the time and trouble out of her busy day, to help a poor, naive, young married couple in trouble and tended to us as if we were her own children. We certainly felt so loved and deeply appreciated her helpfulness.
Years later, we visited this ‘angel’ in her home, where we reminisced and also talked of more pleasant and happy matters. We were privileged to be able to see her again and to thank her more properly for her aid that fateful day. She was just an ordinary wife and mother who lived in West Virginia, leading a very ordinary life. But we will always remember this woman and her act of love for us. Forty-two years later, this woman remains our ‘angel’ of mercy, who showed the love of Jesus to two kids in trouble.