The Bible tells us that sometimes, we might meet angels unaware. It's referring to meeting angels, and us not REALIZING that they're angels. But today, I experienced a new spin on that. I met an angel, and I knew he was one, but I don't think HE knew it.
Somewhere in far East Texas lives a man. One Labor Day afternoon, he was barreling east on I-20, keeping up with the rest of the holiday traffic, when he noticed a suburban full of women - black and white, fat and thin, worried and laughing - stranded in the median. He flew on past, but almost immediately, realized that it was against his nature not to turn around and help. And so he did.
As he pulled up beside our suburban, I said to my fellow passengers, "He's a good guy. Look. He's drinking a Dr Pepper."
"Y'all need some help?" he asked. We explained that we'd just had a blow-out and were going to try to get back across the highway to the wider shoulder on the other side. He offered to help us right there in the grassy median. We said OK.
We'd had a massive blowout on the rear driver's side. The tire was completely shredded, the blowout so sudden and so severe that it pulled our vehicle across the lane and into the ditch. Kristi did an awesome job of retaining control at the wheel.
Dennis pulled a hydraulic jack from the back of his truck and went to work jacking up the Suburban. He strained and pumped, as the car inched up ever so slightly. Finally, I said, "We are LOADED DOWN with scrapbooking stuff. Would it help if we unloaded it?" Truly, we probably had about 500 pounds of paper, metal dies, and other scrapbooking doo-dads in the back end of that car. We unloaded it all onto the grass and watched the car lift up a little on its own.
Then Dennis went to work on the lug nuts. They wouldn't budge. His crowbar began to bend under the stress. In prickly grass and lying across ground that was peppered with fire ants, he kept tugging. Nothing. He was afraid he'd break the lugnuts if he kept pulling. Meanwhile, I was taking lots of pictures. 'Cause that's what a good scrapbooker does in moments of stress and potential fun layouts. :)
Kristi and I began making phone calls. No towing companies were answering their phones on the holiday. Others were giving us busy signals. The Highway Patrol never answered. Finally, Dennis got through to someone. An hour and a half after the blow-out, we finally had someone on the way.
We told Dennis thank you. I hugged him. He was the sweetest, most unassuming guy. Melissa kept referring to him as our angel. "God sent him," she said. I know she's right.
But Dennis wouldn't leave. He sat in his truck behind us and waited. "We're fine," independant, self-sufficient Kristi and I kept saying. "You've done so much already. Thank you." He stayed. "I just can't drive off and leave you ladies sitting here," he explained. "If something happened to y'all, I'd never forgive myself."
Eventually, the tow truck arrived. The guy driving it was a little loopy, and I can say with all honestly that we were all glad Dennis was still there. When the tow-truck guy and HIS big-daddy tools were unable to loosen the lugnuts, we decided to bite the bullet and let him tow us 20 miles to the nearest open tire center - a Walmart. All 6 of us women elected to ride with Dennis rather than the tow truck guy. After all, by this time, we were old friends. (But first, we hopped aboard the tow truck for a photo op!)
On the way, Nookie noticed that Dennis had satellite radio in his truck, and she took control of the remote. We jammed to Nelly, Monica and Ray Charles on the way to Kilgore. Dennis just kept grinning. Every once in a while, he'd look in his rear-view mirror and smile. Then he said to me, "Y'all are giving me an education today." I sort of mumbled an apology about the loud music, and he said, "Nah. I listen to all sorts of music. I mean, looking back there, I see what my girls are gonna be like."
Turns out, Dennis is a daddy to three daughters, ages 7, 6 and 3 weeks. When he looked at Nookie, Nikki and Lety in the back of his Suburban, dancing and clowning and laughing, he saw his future. I think it terrified him and electrified him at the same time. We all ooohed and ahhed at the photos he shared of his babies. (The man carries a digital camera in his truck. THAT'S A GOOD DADDY. Hey Dennis! Does your wife scrapbook? We can HOOK. HER. UP!!)
Dennis dropped us off at Walmart. Thirty minutes later, the tow truck arrived. An hour and a half later - FIVE HOURS after the blowout - we were finally back on the road.
We prayed at Taco Bueno. We thanked God for sending Dennis to our rescue, for his faithfulness and protection over us, and we asked God to not hold back a single blessing from Dennis and his beautiful family.
I told Dennis that I'd be posting his picture here tonight. I hope he checks it. I hope he knows how sincerely appreciative we are. We were a bunch of goofy, giggly, photo-takin', be-boppin' girls this afternoon, making the best of a situation that could've been wrought with stress and strain. But beneath all that silliness, we were a group of blessed women. Deeply appreciative. Humbly rescued by an angel unaware.
Thank you, Dennis. Thank you.