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Thursday, July 26, 2012

How a tire changed me

My dads birthday was the other day. I called him to wish him a happy birthday.
"So what?" right?
AND I sent him a gift.
woop-de-doo!
But that, my friends IS a big deal and step in our relationship. To make a long story short, he made it a point to not be in my life as a kid and make what interactions we did have awful. So when I got older, out of hurt, I returned the favor.
Somewhere along the way I grew up, redefined my expectations of him and our relationship and we actually talk and text. Its by no means an ideal daddy daughter relationship, but I gave up on that a long time ago. And I have let go of a lot of the anger and resentment (notice, not ALL).

Fade to our conversation the other day. Its his birthday and well, he is damn well lucky to be alive. During our conversation he recounts a horrible accident that he and his wife had a few days before, roadtripping to California.

They are driving down the highway at about 70 miles per hour and they blow a tire. They can feel that something is not quite right with their car, it starts slightly fishtailing and is difficult to handle. Then it just blows. Their Jeep goes into the median, flips over like 7 times and ends up on its tires in the other direction of traffic. He is bruised and banged up everywhere. no breaks. She has 2 broken hands and a broken arm. She will have quite a road ahead of her. But both are very much alive.

While my dad was telling me this story, my mind immediately took me to an almost similar sounding story from over 10 years ago. Well, a similar sounding set up. Different ending. And all I can think is how lucky we were to survive it. To have no one get hurt. How for some reason God's hand was watching over us.

I went with a group of youth as a chaperone to a mission trip to Reynosa Mexico. We flew into McAllen, TX, then drove over the border into Mexico.There were enough of us that we needed 4 rental vehicles. We were there to do a VBS, work at an orphanage, work on pouring concrete for their forthcoming basketball court. It was an AMAZING time. Something I will never forget.

On the drive back to the airport on our last day,w e were running a little late and so all vans were booking it down the Mexican highway. While driving, my van started pulling ever so slightly. It was just barely enough to notice, almost like a very very slight fishtail. It felt strange and I asked a passenger if they noticed anything. THey said "no". However, my gut said "yes". I was a little afraid to slow up the group, but I followed my gut and began to slow down and pull over. During the pulling over process, the van started a horrible shaking and some smoke started coming from the rear of the vehicle. It was a little scary to say the least. But we stopped safely. I hopped out to see what the deal was...and there it was...a blown out tire.

A blown out tire, just like what pummeled my dad and step- mom.

I remember thinking at the time how lucky we were. The more I thought about it, the more I realized had I waited mere seconds to decide to pull over, we very well, me and a van full of kids, been flipped over in a ditch.  We were able to simply change the tire. I wish I could find the picture someone took of me at the airport, sitting next to the decimated tire. Of course, you might not recognize the me of that era.

It still humbles me to think about.
Why are some spared and others not. Why did nothing happen to us. Why was my dad spared, though injured. What lessons are there in such situations? Have I been living the life that God has given back to me? Is there a similar message to my dad. And why does it take such extremes to start to appreciate what we have?

Perhaps just this story is enough for me to remember how fragile life is. How we are moments away, or closer to some other destiny or path or choices. Is it worth being angry about the things we are angry about or hold grudges? Is it worth holding back on opportunities because we are afraid? Is questioning a situation really such a bad thing?

And maybe I should check up on my dad a little bit more often.


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