Why Lemony?
(the “About Me” page)

January 27, 2004


Around 9:30 this morning, the kids and I were playing in the toy room and we heard this sound like a light bulb makes when it suddenly burns out as you turn on the light switch. We looked around, and out the window was a car rammed into the bushes in our neighbor's yard, about 15 feet away from the window we were looking out of, and a woman staggering around, getting her two small children, out of the smoking wreckage. I had a strange feeling as I slowly realized that I needed to go from the passive looker out the window, to the active getter of help. I looked around for the phone, which was not in it's charger, of course. Then I saw that there was already someone outside on their cell phone. So I hopped out into the snow, and shouted for them to come inside out of the sharp wind. They came shakily up the stairs. The mom was bleeding a little from her mouth, but, other than that, they all looked ok. As we worked on getting the kids' snowy shoes and coats off, the older of the two boys (named Adonis, I later found out, around Georgia's age) kept saying, 'That was scary. I'm scared'. The younger one, Armani (maybe two), just ran up and joined Maya and Georgia in their couch-trampoline jumping. I sat and talked to the mom, though I never managed to ask her her name (it just didn't come up. I overheard that her last name was Merriwether when she was talking to the police later) and she told me she was four months pregnant and asked me if I thought the baby was going to be ok. (like I would know. I had no idea what to say) Of course, I said the baby would be fine, thinking about what a great shock absorbing system fetuses are decked out with. She said she was feeling dizzy, but nothing worse. It turned out her mouth had gotten hit with the air bag when it inflated(?) (what's the verb for an air bag? seems like exploded would be about right) Her kids were so well behaved, they just got right into playing, and played nicely with my kids, despite being thrown into a totally scary and weird situation. I was very impressed by that. Neither of them even cried. Within a couple minutes, police cars, a tow truck, an ambulance, and an Urbana Park District truck arrived to officially take care of the situation. They all quickly got to work, policeman asking lots of questions from the doorway, trying not to track snow into the house, EMTs asking Mrs. Merriwether lots of questions about her condition. She seemed fine, but they all trooped on to the emergency room anyways just to check on the baby, etc. Tatman's towing guys outside trying to drag the car out of the bushes. They ended up needing two trucks, and thank goodness for the snow to slide on or they never would have gotten that thing out. The front end was all smashed up and pieces all over the yard. Later I would notice that a strange looking red thing behind a tree was a fire hydrant that she had taken out as her car was spinning around in circles on the ice. After a big shuffle to get the kids' coats and shoes back on, with three big EMT guys trying to helpful in my small entryway, and a quick hug from Mrs. Merriwether, they were all gone. I looked at the clock and only half an hour had passed. All that was left of the adventure were puddles of melting snow on the floor, and tire tracks and a misplaced fire hydrant outside. I felt a little dizzy as I went about the rest of my morning.

Now, 3 pm, there's a crew and a bunch of workers digging a big hole around the fire hydrant, putting it back together, I suppose. I'm still a little shaky, though nothing happened to me. I think it scares me to think about what could have happened, how much worse it could have been. But I feel like I shouldn't let my mind go there because it's not real. But minds tend to wander, at least mine does. Mrs. Merriwether (what an ironic name that is today) hit a patch of ice and spun out of control, and now I'm remembering when that happened to me. It was six winters ago, I think (I'm not good at remembering dates), and I was on Hwy. 74 around Danville, going to Earlham College, trying to get to Angeline's graduation. I was driving Theresa, my old monster car, a 1972 Phoenix that Grandma Moutrie had given me, and the weather conditions were not good. It was icy and there was some sleet falling. The roads were really slick and I hit a big ice patch under a bridge and lost control of the car as it started sliding off the road. Then a double semi zoomed past me realy fast and the wake of the truck sent me into a spin back on the road. I stopped spinning facing the wrong way and saw another semi coming right for me. I knew then that I was going to die. I took my foot off the brake, where it had erroneously been planted the whole time, and the car jumped (backwards? sideways?, I still don't know) off the highway, down the median ditch and up the other side, and stopped just short of the next lanes. I just sat there, not wanting to move or get out. Hoping that if I just sat still enough, this wouldn't be happening, and I would just be able to drive away. But the car was stuck in the ditch and it wouldn't budge. Thankfully, the truck that I almost ran smack into stopped for me (the double semi never did), and called for help. The driver came to check on me and asked if I wanted to sit in the cab while I was waiting. I wanted to say no because I was scared of having another crisis to deal with if he turned out to be a creep, but I felt really stupid just sitting in my now very cold car, so I went. I sat there nervously; I had never been in a semi before. He had a little fridge, from which he offered me a can of fruit cocktail. I said I wasn't hungry. He asked me if there was anything else wrong besides my current situation, because he said he could tell I seemed really anxious. I told him I was worried about Grandma Patty who was having heart surgery that day (which was true) and whatever else was on my mind that day. He said something reassuring, and then told me about himself. His name is Don Johnson, but unlike Mr. Miami Vice, he's a grandpa from Utah that can't wait to get back home to rock his two-year-old grandson on the porch. I really looked at thim then, and realized that he was a very good person. Totally blew away my stereotypes of truck drivers. I got out of the ditch with the help of a tow truck, and was amazingly able to drive away from that. I drove straight back home, praying the whole time, newly terrified of ice patches. It's taken me a long time to get over that incident and to feel relatively comfortable driving on snow or ice. Time has been the biggest help in gaining confidence again. I have a deep respect for icy roads now, and I'm still scared of being blown off the road by trucks.

Lesson: I guess it's nice to be helped by strangers, and it's also nice to be that strange helper, I mean helpful stranger. Peace on earth. Good will to people in car accidents.

Posted by Bahiyyih at January 27, 2004 03:45 PM

Hey, wow!

When you said I should read your Webble before I come home from work, I see why! It's a lot easier to read it than have you explain it all over again. And I'll know why there is a hole near our house.

I hope everyone is okay -- especially little unborn baby. It's not the impact so much as the shock to the mother's system, I would guess! Which I'm sure your quick hospitality helped to mitigate as much as possible.


Posted by: Billy at January 27, 2004 05:58 PM

Whoa! And I can't believe I was riding by on the bus JUST after all this happened. As we drove by I thought maybe you were babysitting those kids. I couldn't see the damage to the car from where I sat. So wierd. Kind of like Amores Perros (a very good movie but not one I suggest).
I had a situation with ice and semis too. In South Dakota I was taking a couple kids to the pre-school I worked at. I started to stop at the 2-lane highway so I could turn left onto it. Previously, the Bureau of Indian Affiars had refused to let their trucks clear the city's streets of snow and ice. And in a South Dakota winter the roads were covered in 6 inches of snow/ice. So I went to stop and started sliding into the highway. A semi was coming from the right and I knew he wouldn't be able to stop either. I quick decided to go for it and stepped on the gas and hoped we could turn without sliding. Somehow we made it. The kids then went inside and I had to sit for a while so the visions of a completely destroyed car sitting in the snow could escape my mind.
I too now have a deep respect for snow and ice on the road.

Posted by: Husayn at January 27, 2004 06:54 PM

Wow. I'm so very glad you were there to be the helping hands and mind for the Merriwethers. You acted from instinct, telling her the baby would be fine -- exactly the thing to do. Living all my life in IL, I'm often blown away by the many close calls I've had on the ice without any serious repercussions. It happens and you take a deep breath and shake for a minute and then you go on and don't think about it again. Yet another example of God's protection and how we often don't even notice it.

Posted by: Amy Eades at January 27, 2004 08:27 PM

That's so great you helped that family! They landed at the perfect house. I love their names. They are in my prayers tonight. I once saw an accident happen where a mom with two kids got rear ended and it really freaked me out. It seemed a lot worse than it really was because we called later to make sure they were all right and were told they were all doing fine. It's almost the imagination that freaks you out. We trust that cars stay in their lanes and stop when they are supposed to and when that doesn't happen our reality shifts.

Posted by: Layli Elena at January 28, 2004 09:18 PM


Isn't is amazing how intense a short amount of time can be - you sort of get whipped up into the action without real conscious thought and then dumped out later into your normal routine thinking "what the heck happened?"

I am glad that everyone is okay - I think that this has prompted me to try out Bill's creation of my very first weblog... We'll see.



Posted by: lizzy at January 29, 2004 11:27 AM

Thanks everyone for your thoughts! I feel much better now and I hope that little family is ok.

Posted by: Bahiyyih at January 29, 2004 02:47 PM

Its really great that you had such great presence of mind and helped the whole family calm down. I dont know that I would have been so quick on the draw.

Posted by: Patty at January 29, 2004 07:02 PM

My roommate and I had a similar, though less traumatic, "strange helper" situation the other day when a family of three girls and their mother flagged us down outside our apartment. The youngest girl had slammed her finger in the car door and was screaming hysterically. My roommate, while full of good intention, kind of froze while I launched into "mommy mode," most likely overstepping my boundaries as a friendly stranger. A few minutes later, the little girl had stopped crying, the mother had stopped shaking, and we were all eating ice cream sandwiches. They left as soon as they had arrived, but for the remainder of the day, we felt good for having done what we could.

Posted by: Katie Smith at January 29, 2004 08:59 PM

That Winter of Bahiyyih's Ice-Escapade was one of the family crisis-comes-in-three times: your potentially fatal accident, Mom's surgery, Layli's hospitalization. Certainly instensified my gratitude for everyone's continued presence on this earth. Feels like we all hit a slippery spot on life's path, turned around, avoided physical destruction, and somehow ended up facing the right direction. It was good for me to revisit that time, Bahiyyih, and give thanks for growing health for us all.

Merriweather! I love the name things that are happening in your life! Way to go---from passive to active. Your home of acceptance and love was just what the doctor would have ordered. Also reminds me of the summer you fell into the lake and I stayed in passive mode, except for crying out the Greatest Name. Thank God for the active Sherri. Lots of memories stirring up with these accounts of events in your days. You really put the reader in your present, seeing through your eyes.

Posted by: Nana at February 8, 2004 08:04 PM