After a lovely visit with my parents in NY, I headed south again, stopping for an overnight at a dear friend’s home in VA, then made my way towards my other home in North Carolina. I was looking forward to seeing the Blue Ridge mountains again, catching up with neighbors, and getting back to work the next day. The weather was fine until I got closer to the NC border when the air grew hazy. “Kinda bleak,” I thought to myself, “but no worries. The sun will come out again.”
During the whole trip, I played an audiobook version of The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. You know, the one that was made into a movie, that talks about work as a black maid in the South in the 1960’s. It’s been described as “a superb intertwining of personal and political history in Jackson, MS.” I’ll say! Anyone who struggles to understand the “black lives matter” movement of today might find this book helpful, providing some real food for thought. Frankly, as I listened to the scenes in this book, I found them quite ghastly in terms of how one human being could treat another human being. Prejudice based on skin color is just… so… stupid. There’s a quote in the Baha’i writings that puts a much more positive twist on this thought. It says, ““Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch. Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship…”
Back to my trip. I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things. Those who know me well already know those things included cream for coffee and bananas for breakfast. I wasn’t even a mile down the road when my sister called. She sounded matter of fact when she said, “I’m headed up to the shop. Where are you? Can you please pull over?” I thought she might have some news to tell me about her husband, who had just had surgery. “Sure, hang on.” I got to a large driveway in front of a business that was closed because it was Sunday. “Okay. What’s up?”
“Dad had an accident.” Okay, so that’s not surprising because he’s always doing something that causes some mishap. One time he was up in the quarry and he accidentally electrocuted himself. Obviously, he lived to tell the tale. Then there was the boat problem, the car accident, and the plane in the lake — that last one without a scratch on him, as I recall. No matter, I figured he was hurt, that’s all. “How bad?” I said. “Really bad,” she said. “Is he still alive?” “No.”
What is she saying? Deep breath. What? No, this doesn’t happen to dad. He has nine lives. “Are you sure?” What else do you say when you don’t want to believe something is true?
I started sobbing. Then swearing. Then thinking, “Oh crap, I just left there! Now I’ve got to turn around and go back!” Tears. Swears. Sadness. Disbelief.
I look ahead and see a police car pulling in behind me. He gets out, body cam attached to his glasses. I can see him in my side mirror as he reads my license plate. I roll down my window and say “my father just died.” I sob. What do policemen do when they hear this? Does this usually happen to policemen? I have no idea. But it happened to us, right here in the driveway, just off a major road with cars whizzing by. God put that man right there at that moment to help me grasp the news.
This young policeman was very kind, very compassionate, very professional, and very much a human being to me at that moment. He asked what he could do for me. He offered to talk to my sister while I take a breath. He asked if I had eaten and if I needed to eat or just sit somewhere to regroup. He was so kind. He gave me the space and the time I needed to think out loud what to do next.
I don’t know how long we were there, but it was long enough for me to take in the news and decide which way to drive. He gave me his card and I gave him mine, thanked him ever so much. He pulled his cruiser out into the road before me to make sure I could get back out into the lane and drive. God bless him and protect him and inspire him to continue to do his work “with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship.”
I drove slowly all the way back to my home, sure that the sun wouldn’t come back out for the rest of the day. And it didn’t.