Thursday, February 6, 2014

Saved

I did not grow up fancy.

My parents were high school sweethearts in a tiny rural town.  My dad worked for his dad, and took over Granddad’s natural gas well business when he died.  My parents were both 24 years old when that happened.

By then they had two kids.  By the time they were thirty they had another.  They went from living in a trailer to living in an old farmhouse that they eventually gutted and had remodeled from basement to attic.

They worked hard – my dad was always up and out of the house before dawn, and came home at six for dinner.   Mom spent time with Grandma in the office, doing billing and payroll and collecting time sheets.  I went to sleep every night smelling cigarette smoke as Dad made work calls. 

My childhood was spent in this tiny rural life, walking across a muddy yard to be thrown in the back of the pickup as Dad hauled dirt, or tree branches, or rotten apples that had fallen from the trees in the backyard.  We spent Sundays driving our red station wagon along country roads to check gas well sites.  My brother and I played in the creek just below our house and watched the hole being dug for our swimming pool.

Our family all lived nearby.  My parents knew everyone, and they knew us.  The people we knew didn’t vary, and we rarely saw a stranger.

We saw strangers when we went to the city, a rare occasion that warranted dressing up and eating out and seeing a show where performers sang and danced and we sat in velvet seats and ate candy from a box during intermission while my parents drank small drinks with little straws.  I felt fancy then.

We would drive an hour away from our small rural life to this glittering place where all sorts of strangers milled around us, people we didn’t see because we were rural people who only saw lights and big buildings and a place where a young man would take the keys to your car and park it for you.

I was all dressed up and riding in the back back of our red station wagon on one occasion.  My mom and dad and brother were out of the car already when the keys were handed over to the valet.  I was pretty little, and navigating the jump seat was more difficult when wearing a dress and trying to keep your underwear hidden.

The car took off, and I remember falling out of the car but not on the ground.

There was a stranger.

He was a black man, the first one I remember seeing that was not on television.  In my memory he was scruffy and grey-haired and smelled like old cigarettes and musty clothes that needed washing.  As his strong arms held me, I heard him yelling “THE BABY!  THE BABY!”  The car stopped suddenly, and he continued to admonish the young valet who by now was out of the car, getting a tongue-lashing from this angel. “YOU COULD HAVE KILLED THIS BABY!”

As my mom and dad ran to collect me and several sickened apologies from the valet, the stranger hugged me tight and patted my head to make sure I was okay before he handed me over and chatted with my parents, all dressed up but not so fancy people who were just out with their young family to see a show.  My dad shook his hand and my parents thanked him for saving me.  

To this day I thank him, too.



*******

This post inspired by:

Mama’s Losin’ It

Prompt #5: A time a stranger helped you.

42 comments:

  1. What a beautiful memory of the kindness of strangers. I love this so much.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Tracy. I don't think any of us forgot that day. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Andrea,

    What a sweet memory. The kindness of strangers (to me) is always unexpected - but appreciated, just the same.

    Christopher

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. Kindness is always appreciated. Thank you for reading!

      Delete
  4. I love how you wrote that. You're a natural story teller. :)
    Stalking you via Mama Kat. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Lois! I really appreciate it. Glad you're here!

      Delete
  5. Lovely reminder that not-so-fancy is just right, and the kindness of strangers is palpable. Love this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kindness IS palpable. None of my family members forgot that kind man.

      Delete
  6. This is a wonderful memory and a lovely story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, MJ! I often wonder about this man.

      Delete
  7. This is an amazing story. It made me tear up. What a great memory to have.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jennifer! This memory is such a part of who I am that I almost forgot about it, if that makes sense. My family and I don't even have to talk about it and we all remember it.

      Delete
  8. I love this reminder that most of us are still looking out for each other, and that you never know who is going to save you. Also: it's nice to know that, most likely, someone will be there when we most need it (or maybe it could be us). Great story, lovely memory!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jessica! Great insight - I like to think that we are all looking out for each other, too. :)

      Delete
  9. Wow, he saved you. And that painting to go with you story gave me chills. Beautiful, all of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Elaine! The painting was a fluke - I was looking for helping hands on flickr, and it jumped out at me. Total serendipity.

      Delete
  10. You are a great storyteller and that is a wonderful story. Love it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Kerstin! What a great compliment. :)

      Delete
  11. Really? This is you, dear friend? I had no idea you came from such "rural" roots. It's all so beautiful. I can relate a lot in the way my parents worked hard - we worked hard.

    And this lovely angel who saved you. What a gorgeous, inspiring story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jennie! When I hear the phrase "angels walk among us" I think of that man.

      And yes. I grew up with the smell of dirt in my nostrils every single day. Total country. :)

      Delete
  12. You tell this beautifully. I felt every moment and really could see your childhood, though I wouldn't have guessed it. I love having a glimpse of it, though, and of the kind man who helped you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Angela! It's funny to hear that others don't see my 'country mouse' background because I feel it so thoroughly every day. :)

      Delete
  13. This beautiful. It's a wonderful memory, but it's so fun to read a little bit of your past, too.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I love this. What a great memory...from all angles. Your childhood memories, the memories of this particular event. It gave me chills and hope all at the same time and you've told it just beautifully.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Lisa! I just couldn't write about this memory without prefacing it with a little bit about where I came from, if that makes sense.

      Delete
  15. Loved reading this story. You can always look back on this memory and know there are good people... angels... placed in the right place and the right time. We can be saved in so many different ways.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true! And - something that I didn't explicitly write but is a part of the story - it was a wonderful way for a girl from a small-town upbringing to learn that the world is full of good people who might look different than me.

      Delete
  16. Oh this is so beautifully written, I could see the scenes unfolded. Kind hearted souls are among us all. Angels....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always considered him an angel, truly.

      Delete
  17. What a loving memory of a kind stranger. Bless him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish he knew how he lives in my memories.

      Delete
  18. Love this story! Angels are everywhere!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Wow, Andrea. Wow. What an amazing story, and so well written.

    ReplyDelete
  20. What a wonderful story! You were able to write it so well we were all there with the little version of yourself. Thanks for sharing that memory with us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Tammy! I love this memory. Is that weird?

      Delete
  21. Great story! I could actually envision the scene while you were telling it. You are an amazing story teller!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Mo! That is so nice to hear. :)

      Delete
  22. Holy crap this made me tear up. Stop making me cry, Andrea! :) Beautiful story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Leigh Ann. I hope to make you cry with laughter more often, but of course I can't make promises. :)

      Delete