I’m looking for the Mystery Man, who saved my life in 1977.
It was a hot, humid day in Webster, Texas, when I jumped into my beloved, red, Volkswagen bug, heading down a two-lane road that meandered through farm country. Houses were few, separated by miles. Aside the rural road were six-foot “bar ditches”, used for water run-off. All seemed to be well with the world, aside from the fact that I had no air-conditioning in my little bug, and it was hot, hot, hot.
I cruised along at 60 MPH. Nothing seemed amiss. For the moment.
Suddenly, my little bug swerved. I tried to maintain my position in the lane, but something was wrong, very wrong. I could not control my car, which seemed to have taken on a will of its own.
My last thought was, “Oh, my God, I’m out of control.” At that point the world went black.
I awoke the next day, bandaged and hurting in places, which prior to that moment, I didn’t even know existed. I lay in a hospital bed. I recall reaching with my hands to touch my legs, to assure myself they were still there. A hazy relief swept over me, as I discovered that all body parts were present. Fearful, and not knowing if my body still worked, I cautiously went from head to toe, carefully testing each part of my body, and was relieved to find that everything seemed to respond, as it should. I couldn’t figure out, through my muted brain function, why I was where I was. I had no recollection of what had happened.
I was to find out, later, that the right rear wheel had folded under the axle of my car. This sent my beloved bug swerving out of my control. Somehow, my hurling body bent the gear-shift to an almost 45-degree angle. An unsheathed axe which had been lying on the backseat floorboard had missed me, as my car whirled around and flung itself into the bottom of the roadside ditch. My head had hit the closed passenger window, dead-center, and popped it out, somehow without breaking my neck. My body flew through the now-vacant space which had once been occupied by the passenger window. I met with a very unfriendly barbed-wire fence, then bounced into the bottom of the six-foot bar-ditch, where I skidded on my shoulder into an equally unfriendly, hard object, ripping away skin and muscle, somehow missing the vital, carotid artery in my neck by just millimeters. My little, bent and broken red bug, landed just feet away from my body.
I suffered a concussion, bruises, abrasions and major lacerations that required skin grafts, but no broken bones. Miraculous. I remember nothing. Shock is a blessing.
I’m not sure when, but I think it was a couple of days later, when a man appeared at the door of my hospital room.
He hesitated, I suppose waiting for a flicker of recognition on my face. He seemed somewhat familiar, but I just couldn’t place him.
“Do you know who I am?” he asked. “Do you remember me?”
I struggled hard to recall how I knew him, but my mind drew a foggy blank.
“I’m sorry. You seem familiar, but I don’t know why.” I felt embarrassed. Something inside of me told me that I should remember him.
He smiled. “I was behind you in my pick-up truck, before your accident. It looked like something happened to the rear-end of your car, because it went completely out of control.”
I guess he could tell from my Pacific Northwest accent that I wasn’t from around there, so he went on to explain. “After your accident, I called for the EMTs on the CB emergency channel. I gave you first aid ’til they got there. I really didn’t know if you’d make it.”
I didn’t know what to say, except, “Thank you.”
He continued, “I was on my way home from work. My wife and I were planning to leave for a vacation that night.” He paused. “But I couldn’t leave until I was sure you were okay.”
I was astonished. I was a stranger to him. How many people would postpone their vacation, just to make sure a stranger, who’d met with misfortune, had survived?
“My wife works upstairs. She’s sorta kept me updated on how you’ve been doing.” He pointed toward the ceiling, as he spoke. “I can see you’re okay, so I can go now.” He smiled again, then turned without another word, and walked away. He gave no name.
I’ve always wanted to thank this man for saving my life, for if he’d not come along, I may not have been discovered for hours. I would surely have bled out and died. I’ve never found him. And, as I discovered later, there was no upstairs where his wife could have worked. My hospital room was on the top floor.
Who was this Mystery Man, if indeed, he was a man?
I often wonder. . .
©Janet Mitchell, April 2012