Monday, December 15, 2008

First Person Account ... but for my mother's prayers

(Ed. Note -- OK Corbett had intended to write about his own ‘Bucket List’ after viewing the Jack Nicholson-Morgan Freeman flick, in which both have cancer and have been given six months to live before “kicking the bucket.” However, in a strange twist of fate and in a split second, Corbett’s own life hung in the balance early Friday afternoon.)

Fridays have always been one of my favourite days of the week.
A time to run some farm errands; feed the dawgs – Bennie the Hound and Sadie the Kid and even Griff if I can find him – and then head out to see some friends in Falkland, on to Westwold and even out to Monte Lake.
Most of the afternoon was filled as well with a trip into Vernon to check with my doctor – Dr. DeBeer – to find out the results of some recent tests and then return to the Ol’ Homestead, put up my feet and mull over what I was going to write for Monday.
I had decided to do my own ‘Bucket List.’ Or so I thought. Instead, it became a first-person account of how I (nearly) died on a Friday afternoon, but for the grace of God.
11:30 a.m. - 12 noon: I headed into Falkland to do some errands and then the Subaru Outback purred towards Monte Lake. Even though it was snowing, there didn’t seem to be any problem and I knew I would get back to Vernon by 2:20 in time to check in with Dr. DeBeer.
12:45 p.m.: No problem although the snow started to swirl on the return trip as I approached Westwold and rounded the corner towards the Legion, located on the left-hand side of the road. Slush was building up in the middle of the road and the car skidded slightly and then it happened …
12:50 p.m.: The car started to spin round and round and turning in the opposite direction. And then it went sideways to the left-hand side of the road and sped up. However, I believed I would be able to stop it before landing in the ditch, but it didn’t.
12:51 p.m.: “Oh, God,” I whispered. I’m now flying high in the air and then within seconds, although it seemed like an eternity, the Subaru “twisted” and then landed with a thud on its roof. The floor is now inches from my face and my legs are trapped. I could hear the car radio blaring; the engine was still going and the seatbelt was holding my 260-pound frame tight and I’m lying in a bed of shattered glass.
12:53: I’m conscious, but I’m trapped and thinking, “is this how I’m going to die?” The car’s interior was crushing down on me and I couldn’t move my arms. It was like a tomb. A grave. And then I yelled: “Help me!” a half-dozen times. However, I am at peace. No panic. No out-of-this world nightmares.
12:55: Then I heard a female voice and it was familiar one. “It’s Barb McDonald. Are you okay?” she asked. “I think so,” I replied. I knew Barb, for The Missus and my family had stayed at her home during the 2003 fires, which had come so close to our Whispering Pines residences. (I later learned this “angel of mercy,” was also a school-bus driver as well as a “First Responder” and had apparently watched as the Subaru sailed into a ditch, which turned out to be a deep six-foot gully, laden with rocks and brush).
1:06 p.m.: I moved my arms and my wrist watch was working and found it intact and I wondered what was underneath my head. It was glass. The car door was finally pulled open and I could see outside and looked up at some shoes high above. From that angle, I thought I had landed in the Grand Canyon.
(It was then that RCMP Cpl. Keith Ferguson of the Falkland Detachment joined the “rescue” party and displayed a high degree of professionalism and concern).
1:15: Barb asked me to turn off the ignition and I tried to reach the keys which were next to my left foot; she was concerned that the airbags would “deploy” and I’d be in trapped without any means of escape. They didn’t and although I couldn’t get the keys out; the car radio finally ceased blaring. Barb had to leave, for it was past time for her to pick up school kids, who were waiting for the bus. Then one of the firemen asked me if I could crawl out of the tangled mess. I wanted to see if my legs would actually work since the left one was snared under the dash. Crawling outside, there were a half-dozen or so rescue-ambulance-firemen there in the gully and up top on the road. I got up off my snow-covered knees and shakily got to my feet. I could stand. I was alive, but the Subaru now resembled a battered accordion. I was wondering how I was going to get up the steep incline. That’s when the fireman told me that I would be taken in a basket and hauled up to the waiting ambulance.
1:20: Another “free” ride and that’s when I saw the full extent of the Subaru’s “injuries,” lying upside down in a fatal position. However, I couldn’t ponder the situation too long for a hospital visit was mandatory. The ambulance “nurse” told me she had once been a paralegal in Vancouver, but had found that being with the ambulance service was so much more satisfying. We talked and even chuckled about our life experiences.
2:45: Vernon Jubilee Hospital Emergency: A wheelchair was in order, for it’s mandatory even though I was quite mobile. No injuries. No stiffness. Only a rinky-dink scratch on my finger (fourth digit right-hand side), which measured all of 1/64 of an inch and nearly invisible after drops of blood had been wiped off.
4:10: The Missus and stepdaughter Susan arrived at the hospital to take me home and they were shocked to see me uninjured and mobile.
5:30: Although I had been told, in the past that I had more lives than a cat since I had been threatened by vicious gangs and even small kids with guns in Ethiopia; been surrounded by hoodlums in Israel and survived, I knew there must be another reason for the latest episode. That’s when I told my 93-year-old mother in Calgary on the phone about the accident. She was calm as usual. “I know … I called my prayer group together and we’ve been praying for you the past couple of days.”
As in the past, my survival didn’t depend on any number of “cats,” but on my mother’s prayers and my faith in God.


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