Angels Among Us

A friend of mine recently posted a story about her Unknown Angel, so I thought I’d share mine.

Long long ago, way back in the early 1970’s, my husband and I and our three little girls lived for three years in Indianapolis, Indiana. In the fall of 1973, my husband quit his job and we moved back to California where he was to start his own business.  We packed our household into a Ryder truck which he drove with our oldest daughter, Dawn, riding shotgun, I followed in our Ford LTd with the two youngest girls, and the week of Thanksgiving we set out westbound on I-70.  We had done the I-40/Route 66 before, and thought we’d see a different part of the country this trip. (Little did we know there isn’t a whole lot to see in Kansas.)

We arrived in Denver, Colorado, late in the afternoon, with the skies darkening and snow predicted for the Rockies that lay ahead of us to the west. We had dinner, then decided to turn south to avoid the storm. Unfortunately, we’d waited a bit too long.  The blizzard had engulfed all of western Colorado, including I-25 south out of Denver. I soon lost sight of my husband and the big yellow Ryder truck, and struggled to follow as best I could with visibility decreasing by the minute.  I was reduced to a little hole in the snow-covered windshield about six inches in diameter, and doggedly followed a sand truck and snowplow until they, too, left me behind.

I’m not sure just where it was, but we came to a long straight downhill stretch of interstate, with exit ramps and gas stations and a motel at the bottom. Somewhere on the way down that hill, my car began to slide. Sideways. Down that hill.  Now…I am no expert when it comes to driving in snow, but I do know you’re not supposed to hit the brakes in a situation like this. So I kept telling myself: Don’t do it, don’t step on the brakes, don’t do it DON’T DO IT!  And then I did it.

The result was predictable: The Ltd. wound up in the v-shaped ditch between the interstate and the on-ramp.

So, there I was, with two little girls, in a blinding blizzard, a foot or so of snow on the ground and more than that on the roadsides.  Way up at the top of the bank, through a barbed wire fence, were the lights of a service station. Between that oasis of safety and me and the girls was an on-ramp and a steady stream of huge big rigs churning down onto the interstate. I could see them looking down at us as they went by, laughing at the stupid 4-wheeler driver stuck in the ditch.  Worse than that, though, was what I saw when I looked back up that long hill we’d just slid down. We weren’t the only ones having trouble on that sheet of ice. Cars were going every which way, slamming into each other, out of control.  I knew it was only a matter of time before one of them slammed into US. Somehow, I had to get my little girls out of that car!  But how?

Then…I looked up that hill and saw the angel.  He was on foot, slipping and sliding down that hill, dodging the crazy bumper-car traffic, making his was toward us.  He was a hippy. And for those of you who weren’t alive during that decade, hippies weren’t well thought of by most of mainstream conventional America. But there he was, the only person on that crazy interstate, including the truckers–so-called “Knights of the Road”–who put his own personal safety aside to come to the rescue of a frightened woman and her two little girls.

That young man got us out of the car and up that snowy bank and under that barbed-wire fence, and into that service station, where someone in a 4-wheel-drive vehicle took us to the hotel on the other side of the freeway. We spent the night there, unable to contact my husband and oldest daughter, who had made it to our destined hotel farther down the interstate and had no idea what had happened to us. (This is what life was like before cell phones.)

My girls still remember the 10-foot tall mounted Kodiak bear in the hotel lobby.

The next day we got the Ltd. towed into the service station. Equipped with snow tires,, we proceeded on our way. (The snow disappeared about ten miles down the interstate, and the snow tires were never used again.)

I never got the name of our Angel, but I’ve thought of him so many times in the years since.  I wish I could tell him how much his act of courage and kindness meant to me. Who knows, maybe he will know someone who knows someone who sees this and will tell him and he will remember the night he rescued the lady and two little girls in a blizzard on the interstate south of Denver Colorado.