Car Crashes and Other Not So Fun Stuff

The words seemed to hang in the air as a slow wave of fear formed in the pit of my stomach. This was the second time in less than a year the phrase, “Mom I crashed,” was being spoken to me. I immediately pulled off the highway to talk to my 17 year old son on the other end of the phone.

The Salinas Valley Fair was coming up later in the week and we were planning to camp nearby as Cory and Olivia showed their pigs they raised for a 4H project. The problem was the campground filled up faster than expected and we were without a reservation—landing us 27th on the waiting list for overflow.

Ed had talked to a John-Candy-look-alike ranger over the weekend who said he had 7 sites with hook-ups set aside and was willing to sell them starting on Monday: first come, first serve.

We didn’t NEED to start camping ‘til Wednesday, but Eddie knew I NEEDED full hook-ups so he decided to drive our RV to King City early. Cory was going to drive the 90 minutes down to give him a ride home.

As Cory was walking out the door, I stopped him and delivered a passionate speech about the dangers of driving highway 101 during the evening commute through Salinas… lots of speeding cars navigating only two southbound lanes. He promised to be careful.

“Mom. I’m fine. I was in a car accident, but I’m fine,” I willed myself to remain calm as the story unfolded. Cory explained a mini-van had suddenly pulled in front of the line of cars causing everyone to slam on their brakes. He managed to stop in time, however, the guy behind him did not… rear-ending the corner of Cory’s truck and landing in a ditch.

At this point I launched into a second impassioned speech telling Cory to NOT let the other guy leave the scene of the accident. (Apparently the “landed in a ditch” part of the story was not registering.)

“Take a picture of his driver’s license, license plate, insurance card, your truck… EVERYTHING.”

Cory quickly hung up stammering something about needing to get his truck off the road. WHAAATTT?? !

Ed and Cory were both stranded and while Cory’s truck was not drivable, Ed seemed to be not reachable, and I was 40 minutes north of the accident.

It’s a mixture of feeling sick, relieved and very emotional all at the same time.

I got back on the highway heading south toward Cory while trying to reach Ed. About 15 minutes down the road, Cory called, letting me know a fireman had tweaked the back end of his truck and he was able to keep driving toward his dad. He again assured me that although his head had snapped forward and then back, he had not hit it against anything and felt fine.

Ed was a bit shocked at what had transpired and super frustrated with his phone… not one text or voicemail had come through.

The guys slowly made their way home with Ed driving (I realize I don’t usually use slowly and Ed’s driving in the same sentence) and Cory sleeping. Cory seemed slightly dazed from all that happened and had a headache. He continued saying he was fine, just a bit shaken up and trying to process the last couple hours.

The next morning, he was acting SO strange— groggy, frustrated and unable to stay on task with getting ready. I knew his allergies were bad, but he absolutely had to go school. It was the week before finals and he was already going to be missing Thursday and Friday for the fair. He had a math quiz that morning along with tons of reviewing in his other classes.

I let him take his time getting out the door, providing him with a note excusing his tardy, allergy medicine and ibuprofen.

Within the hour the school nurse called wanting to send Cory home. She suspected he had a concussion and needed rest. I felt like the worst mom ever! I hadn’t even mentioned the crash in the note, blaming his tardiness on severe allergies. It never even crossed my mind!

Our doctor confirmed Cory was displaying all the symptoms of a concussion. He explained it can happen even though his head hadn’t hit anything. The whiplash movement of the sudden jerking was enough to cause the problem. He was most likely able to function so well the night of the crash due to the rush of adrenaline.

Cory was to take a break from academics and screens… phone, computer, tv. Nothing cognitively taxing for a few days.

The next afternoon we were headed back to King City for the fair. On the drive down, a friend called and we began chatting about our families. She shared how she and her husband spend a few minutes every morning praying together for their kids and how it’s making all the difference. I texted her later asking what they specifically pray about.

This is what she said:

“We pray that God will allow us to accept our kids the way God created them and show us how we can support them. We have prayed to let go of our expectations of what we thought our kids should be like and ask for wisdom to recognize them for who God made them to be. We pray for protection and for God to send good people into their lives to help them along. We pray for the strength to turn off the Xbox One! Haha. We thank God for the lessons they teach us and for the opportunity to grow closer to God as we journey together through the ups and downs of being a family.”

Isn’t that BEAUTIFUL!

My friend went on to say how much God is blessing their marriage because of this daily discipline of a few minutes of prayer together.

It was a good reminder to Eddie and me to not let the busyness of life crowd out the most important thing.

Cory recovered and is doing really well. I find myself copying my friend’s prayer outline for Jessica, Cory and Olivia… with A LOT of emphasis on the protection part for my little mister! …

… He’s gonna need it ’cause I JUST discovered he ate all the ice cream!











Car Trouble

Friday could not get here fast enough. It had been a long week! Besides doctor appointments, I had met with some friends the night before to try and diagnose my laptop and phone issues. After spending hours on it, the consensus was to make an appointment at the Apple Genius Bar, and the sooner the better!

Ugh! Such a bummer!

So, Friday morning just seemed like a perfect time to soak my troubles in a bubble bath. I rarely get to do that, but my stress level was high and the tub was calling my name. Ed had left for work and Cory was finally out the door for school after coming back twice for forgotten items. The girls were asleep so, to me, the timing was perfect.

I had JUST put some fancy conditioner on my hair when there was pounding on the bathroom door. “Mom. MOM. I crashed my truck!”

I was out and dressed in seconds—conditioner still in my hair— to find Cory on the phone with Ed.

He had gone off the road, into a ditch and hit a tree on our property.

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I was thankful he wasn’t hurt and no other vehicles were involved, although his truck was basically not drive-able. He had saved up his money to buy the little Ford Ranger and that truck had brought him so much joy.  But… no time to think about that now. He needed to get to school ASAP because his two hardest classes are first.

We hopped in the mini-van, conditioner still in my wet hair, and off we went. We live at the end of a mile long dirt road, and take country roads to get to Cory’s school. It’s a fairly quick drive with no cell reception. We were almost to the school when Cory noticed a car coming towards us that looked just like Jessica’s gray Tahoe.

“Is Jessica coming back from working out or something?” Cory asked.

“No, Cory. Her car is in the shop and she’s home sleeping.”

It really did look like her car and as we passed it, I looked in my rear view mirror and then said, “Hmmmm. That’s really strange. That Tahoe has the exact same sticker on the back window as Jess.” Cory and I had a moment of how-weird-is-that, but kept driving to school.

I dropped him off, and after writing a quick note explaining Cory was late due to “car trouble,” I was heading back home.  As soon as I got to the beginning of our mile long dirt road and had cell again, I noticed a text from Ed saying, “Call me ASAP.”

Ed answered his phone immediately (THAT alone is a miracle) and calmly blurted out, “Jessica’s car was stolen.” Ed was using his I’m-completely-being-serious-voice and I suddenly began to panic as I made the connection.

“Ed. I JUST passed her car and it was heading to our house. AND… our ‘clickers’ for the gate and garage are both in the car with our address on the registration.”

I FLEW down our road, wondering what I would find at home.

The girls were safe and no-one was around.  I called Eddie back to find out what he knew about the theft.

That morning our friend, Bob, who runs the shop, had arrived early to start filling out the work orders for each vehicle.  He had noticed a guy across the lane at GM dressed as a mechanic, whom he had never seen before.  Not thinking much about it, Bob placed keys in the cars needing service and hung the orders up in the shop.  An hour later, the Chevy mechanic went out to get Jessica’s car and drive it in.

He couldn’t find it.

The mechanic and Bob searched the whole lot and the Tahoe was nowhere. Reviewing the surveillance video showed the GM imposter mechanic simply getting in Jessica’s car and driving off the lot. He stopped for a moment at GM and picked up a hidden, white bag full of stuff and away he went.

We were floored.

Jessica’s car was stolen at the SAME TIME Cory had crashed.   And… Ed was literally trying to call me with news of it being stolen AS I was passing her car on the back, country roads with no cell.

I could not stop shaking and did not feel safe.  The rest of the day was a blur of dealing with insurance, calls to the police and renting a temporary car for Jess.

I had made a deal with myself to call my doctor on this day to find out results of the scan and ultrasound if she did not call me first.   There was NO WAY I was calling.  For whatever reason, bad things seem to happen in 3’s and I wasn’t risking the odds to possibly hear a bad report!

I would call on Monday!

Nine hours later the car was found.  The police recognized the sticker on the back window— you know, the one I SHOULD HAVE RECOGNIZED— and pulled the guy over ONE BLOCK away from the Chevy dealership where it was stolen!  The guy had been on quite a joy ride and the car was filled with cigarette ashes, beer cans, red bull cans, maps, registrations, umbrellas and trash.  He only had it for 9 hours, but it looked and smelled HORRIBLE.  Chevy kept the car for a few days and completely detailed it, however… they still charged us for the oil change— hah!

I noticed something very interesting as this day unfolded.  I seemed to be the ONLY one in my family who panicked.  While Cory had pounded on the bathroom door to get my attention after the crash, he was actually sweet and pleasant as we drove to school, as if everything was just fine.

Jessica was super calm as I broke the news to her about her car, although she scolded me for approaching her as if someone had died.

Both of them were completely confident in their dad’s ability to direct the situations.

Eddie handled ALL the necessary phone calls and paperwork and would tell the kids the next thing they needed to do.

Even when he pushed them a bit out of their comfort zones, like Jessica interacting with the rental car people, they would do it because Ed had gone before them making the arrangements.

Jessica and Cory know their dad loves them.

They know he wants the best for them.

They trust him implicitly!

I’m growing in my ability to trust my heavenly Father that same way.

I John 3:1 “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

We made it through this “stranger than fiction” day and you’ll be glad to know that both clickers were still in Jessica’s car when we got it back, and, in case you were wondering…

I did finally get the conditioner rinsed out of my hair!