It was a Friday and we were all hustling around to make the basketball game that night. I was in Manhattan with Tatum for her physical therapy, we had made the appointment with the idea that she would be done at just the right time to arrive at the school before the games started. Jennifer was going to meet us there from work and Isaac was going home after school, do chores and return back to the school in time to work the FFA food stand that night. A busy chaotic night but, to be honest, nothing out of the ordinary.
I was driving in Manhattan when I got the call. The caller id on my cell phone told me the call was from home. Knowing that Isaac was doing chores and we could have new lambs or calves, I knew the call probably meant trouble of some kind. However, we all know the penalty for answering a phone call in Manhattan is $150 so I debated on what to do. However, at the last second I decided to veer off into a nearby parking lot at take the call.
Isaac’s first words to me were the words every parent fears the most. “Dad, I had a pretty bad wreck.” The first thing I asked was if he was OK. A little shaken but he did seem to have all of his wits about him and did not think he had anything more than bumps and maybe bruises. Then I asked if he had anyone with him. Often he will bring friends home to “help” with chores (much in the same manner Huck Finn had friends “help” him paint). Again the answer was no. Immediately a rush of relief came over me.
“But Dad,” Isaac said in a cautious voice, “the truck is upside down in the creek and totaled.” We have a number of bridges close to the house and so I quizzed him about which one it was. We have a bridge right at the corner of our driveway and quickly I found out that it was the one. “I hit an ice patch and there was nothing I could do, are you mad?” Isaac asked.
Without hesitation, I assured him that I was not mad, no matter the circumstances and that I was relieved he was alone and OK. Trucks can be replaced (although I was not letting him in on that secret for a while) but kids cannot. Immediately a friend called to talk about something else and when I found out he was close I asked him to check on Isaac. Then I called Dad, he had just finished feeding cows and soon help was on the way.
The next call was from Jennifer, she too had spoken to Isaac and was relieved that he was OK, but a bit frantic and terribly worried. We decided that I would head for home, she would pick Tatum. Just as I started home, my friend called and said Isaac seemed to be fine but the pickup was a goner.
I arrived home and the first thing I saw was Grandpa and Isaac sitting on the tailgate of Grandpa’s truck. I stopped on the bridge and they came over, and we all stared at the four tires in the air. Until that point I guess I had been in crisis mode and had not really thought about the severity of what had happened. I am glad we had made seatbelts a routine and doubly glad that Isaac had paid attention to that lesson. Without a doubt the seatbelt saved him from great harm or worse.
That evening after a chat with a great, understanding sheriff’s deputy and a call to the wrecker service we started into the basketball game. I thought a distraction would be good for all of us. I asked Isaac if he had learned any lessons, we talked about the wreck and those lessons. He has always been a fairly cautious driver and my hope is that this wreck has taught him to be even more cautious and aware of the situation at hand, time will tell.
We finished our talk that night as we pulled into the high school parking lot. Isaac thinking that he was riding the school bus for the foreseeable future and me pondering a vehicle purchase I had not planned on but both of us knowing that everything could have been a whole lot different. I do not have a good answer as to why Isaac’s wreck was just a scare and nothing more. But I am eternally grateful that it was just that, a scare. Again I will say it, pickups can easily be replaced, and people cannot.