Time’s Up!

by Patty Smith on June 29, 2014

My mom picked me up at 3:30 AM that Friday. She asked me to drive her to the hospital in Sacramento where she was to have a heart procedure that needed an overnight hospital stay. Her check in was at 5:00 AM, which is why we left Grass Valley (about 55 miles away from Sacramento) at 3:30. I figured the drive would only take one hour, but I wanted to give us time for fog, truly a dangerous road condition in Northern California.

I got on Highway 49 and eased her small Toyota SUV up to 55 mph. Highway 49 is a country road that is slowly being modernized. One hundred years ago it was a cow track. It has a lot of hills, curves and pavement of varying widths. Visibility at best is a mile. We were the only ones on the road, which I thought strange. We chatted about the week and how unhappy I was with my commission-only job. I was putting in a lot of work for no results.

Ten minutes into the drive, I saw a pair of oncoming headlights. At last, another sign of life. I thought the car was going fast because the distance between us was closing faster than I thought it should. At about a quarter mile distance between us, I realized that the vehicle was in my lane and headed right for us. He was moving fast, straight and deliberate , just like I was. I quickly swerved to the right, praying that there was enough shoulder to avoid a collision. I didn’t want to hit the noise barrier between the highway and the neighborhood on the other side of the wall. I was convinced that now we would only be sideswiped and only I would be injured/killed and not my mom.

The car sped by in a flash. I noticed in my rear view mirror that he never hit his brakes. My mom saw the car. It was a large SUV in a darkish color. I knew that if we had collided that at least both my mother and I would have been killed. The modern vehicle safety systems do not offer much protection in a crash with massive impact.

I did not call the highway patrol because the contents of my purse were now scattered all over the interior of our car and we couldn’t find my cell phone. My mom was shaken and I was seriously rattled. We continued on our way and did not see another vehicle until we got to Auburn. As we talked about the incident, we quickly discarded the idea that the other driver was drunk. There was no hesitancy, overcompensation, or other signs of impaired driving. I thought that if the other driver was trying to commit suicide by car, I did not want to be the instrument of his death under any circumstances. I hoped that no other car was in his way as he sped up the highway in the wrong lane.

After Mom was prepped for her procedure, I went to the cafeteria to have coffee and breakfast. I realized that God had given me notice to stop wasting my time on this earth. We were not put on this earth to be unhappy. We are given choices about how we want to live and this was notice that I was not living that way.

I want to be part of a group that values me. I want to work towards goals that meet my needs and values. I want to be acknowledged and rewarded for my creativity. I now realized that tomorrow is guaranteed to none of us. If I am unhappy with my circumstances, I need to change them. I thought about my goals. My writing and the things I have to say are very important to me. I am developing my voice and I want to use that voice to make the world a better place.

The next Monday, I walked into work and quit my job. My boss really understood. I am being selective about my choices and a lot more focused on what I want out of life. I thank God for telling me that my time could have been up!

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This is a guest blog by Patricia Harris Smith, author of the upcoming biography of General Max Thurman.  Read more about Patty and the book on her website www.maxthurmanbio.com.

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