Our adventures began even before we arrived in the Philippines.
Two weeks ago we had an auction and sold almost everything we owned, including our Buick Le Sabre which was primarily Marcia's car. The remainder we divided into what we could take with us in four suitcases and a few things that we would store at our son Nick's house.
On Friday morning we packed up the last of our belongings, locked up the house, and headed for Nick's workplace in Jackson, Michigan, for lunch. We then headed out of town for Nick's. Ironically, being unfamiliar with its maze of one-way and interwoven streets, I almost ran a stop sign in the middle of town.
We then headed toward Gregory, our new home away from home. We were traveling east at the speed limit of 55 mph on a moderately traveled two-lane state highway. Suddenly I heard Marcia say, "Lord, have mercy!" and simultaneously I heard a bang on the right side of the car. We spun around, and I thought we were going to flip. In fact all that happened was that we gently slid backward into a soy bean field and came to a stop.
My first thought was to make sure Marcia was okay, and then, "This is going to screw up our trip on Sunday." We got out of the car and saw that a number of people had stopped. Our car, with back seat and trunk packed full, sustained damage to the back passenger side, including the door which wouldn't open. The trunk was skewed, and the rear axle was slightly bent, but the car appeared drivable as long as the tires, which were jammed with grass, didn't deflate.
The driver of the large Ford pickup which hit us approached to make sure we were alright. He apologized profusely for not seeing the stop sign until it was too late. He said that he was going around 50 mph, looked down at his seat for something, and when he looked up he was already almost in the intersection. He was able to swing the truck to his right, and thus it hit our car with its front left bumper instead of straight on. He had a two way radio, and called for the police. They were in no hurry, once they heard there were no injuries.
Two women who were traveling westbound (towards us) stopped and told us what they had seen. The intersection was such that visibility from our direction was essentially non-existent, since there a hill with a cornfield planted right up to the road. From the women's direction, however, they could see that the pickup was not going to stop and were prepared to be hit at full speed until our car intervened. They said that we saved their lives, and I'm not sure they were exaggerating. A volunteer fireman who stopped to check on us said, "God was with you."
When the sheriff arrived he said that almost all accidents that occur at more than 45 mph involve fatalities. All three of us were unharmed. However, if timing had been different by less than one tenth of a second, there certainly would have been serious if not fatal results. Because he hit us just behind the center of the car, he swung us off the road to the right. A split second sooner and he would have pushed us into oncoming traffic and we would have had a minimum of three vehicles and five people involved. A split second later and he would have swung our back end around, again involving all three vehicles. And of course if he had missed us on either side the results would have been much worse for him and the women.
Because the car is a 2000 Park Avenue with over 150,000 miles, it is probably a total loss. We won't find that out until after we reach Manila, after Nick gets the estimate. Amazingly, we were able to drive the car to Nick's without trouble, despite the steering wheel being cockeyed, reinforcing my feeling that driving a big car has its advantages in a crunch.
Like my pedestrian accident of four years ago, where one second either way would have saved me from a brain injury and missing a year of work, things like this make you think about how life is so uncertain. Every day is a gift from God. We are very grateful, and realize that all of our plans for our retirement, less than one week old, could have come, literally, to a crashing halt.
Tomorrow, God willing, we head out to the Philippines, to continue our excellent adventure.