We got a phone call on Saturday evening. I looked at the caller ID and immediately cringed. It was her. When she calls at that time of the night, it often means that there is a crisis. My heart raced as I picked up the receiver expecting to hear a panicked voice. I wasn’t disappointed.
She had just been in a car accident. She sounded extremely upset, but she was thinking clearly. She told me that somebody had come out of nowhere and hit her on the left side just ahead of the front wheel. She didn’t think that her car was drivable, and she was waiting for the cops to arrive. Before I could ask anything else, the police showed up and she hung up.
Timing is everything. When the young woman called us, I had been just getting ready to turn in for the night. Our toddler grandson, Asher, was also tired. He had been yawning. Well, nobody was going to bed for a while. Everybody was too wired. We had to wait to find out how the story was going to end. We were now part of a cliff hanger.
She called again. She asked if the car could be towed to our house. The young woman is staying in a halfway house, and there is no place for the auto there. The cops want the car to be towed somewhere, and it might as well rest comfortably in our yard for a while. I asked her if the towing service could make sure not to block the entrance to the garage when they brought her disabled vehicle here.
She answered, “I don’t know! I haven’t even called the tow truck yet!”
I mumbled something, and she hung up again.
Okaaaay. We’ll just wait and see.
There was a pause in the action. Asher was restless. My wife, Karin, and I were waiting to hear the phone ring again. My mind raced. I had lots of questions, and no good answers.
Honestly, it was a wonder that her beater had lasted this long. Her 2008 Ford Focus had originally belonged to our youngest son, Stefan, who had been working in a body shop and rebuilt it from salvage wreck. After a few years, he sold it to me, and I finally gave it to the young woman. We all knew that eventually it would die, and she would need a different ride. Well, that day had come, rather suddenly.
I was already trying to figure out how to get her transportation. Did she really need a car? Yeah. Could she afford a car? No. Public transportation in the Milwaukee metro area is wretched. There are many locations that cannot be reached without a car, and this young woman needed to go to a number of them on a regular basis. To visit Asher, she probably had to have a car of her own. If she did not have her own vehicle, then she would have to Uber, or she would depend on my wife and me for frequent rides. There are no simple solutions to this problem, nor are there any inexpensive ones.
She finally called to inform us that she and the tow truck were on their way to our address. A few minutes later, with lights flashing, the truck arrived. Asher demanded to go outside on the front porch to watch the show. I showed the driver where I wanted him to plant the car. With an ease earned from years of practice, he slid the car off the truck into exactly the place I had indicated. I was impressed.
The young woman held Asher in her arms as her mangled machine found its new home. She seemed calm and alert. She hugged the little boy tightly. He hugged her back. It was cold and windy in the night air, and she kept him warm.
Karin got ready to take the young woman to her home. The woman gave the boy to me. She looked at Asher and said, “I love you.”
He smiled up at her and said, “I wuv you.”
Her face broke into a smile, and her face glowed with joy. Asher almost never tells anyone that he loves them. When he does, it’s something to savor.
Karin and the young woman left. Asher and I were in the living room. Asher looked at me and said, “Sit in the rocking chair.”
Then he said, “Hold me.”
He climbed up into my lap and settled down. Asher rested his head on my right bicep. He clutched my left forearm with his chubby right hand. We were both silent. I was wound up and worried. He wasn’t. He slowly relaxed. I could feel his body conform to the shape of my arms. Almost imperceptibly, he fell asleep.
I thought for a moment about how much he trusted me, how safe he felt in my arms. That was a blessing for both of us, because I calmed down too.
Who holds an adult in their arms? Who can I trust like Asher trusts me?
Frank (Francis) Pauc is a graduate of West Point, Class of 1980. He completed the Military Intelligence Basic Course at Fort Huachuca and then went to Flight School at Fort Rucker. Frank was stationed with the 3rd Armor Division in West Germany at Fliegerhorst Airfield from December 1981 to January 1985. He flew Hueys and Black Hawks and was next assigned to the 7th Infantry Division at Fort Ord, CA. He got the hell out of the Army in August 1986.
As the Voice of the Veteran Community, The Havok Journal seeks to publish a variety of perspectives on a number of sensitive subjects. Unless specifically noted otherwise, nothing we publish is an official point of view of The Havok Journal or any part of the U.S. government.