Friday, May 19, 2006

What's Important.

First, before you read any farther than this sentence, get up and go hug someone you love. Look into their eyes, touch their face, hold them long and hard. Go on, I'll wait.


A few hours ago, I had walked in the door after a long Friday with youngsters who know they're almost free for the summer. The house smelled of crockpot goody and I had just put on some rice to go with the soup that had simmered all day. I was looking forward to a bowl or two of soup and then some time working on the stair remodeling.
Then the phone rang.

"Katie's been in a car accident". It was my wife on the phone. Strange how fast your mind can switch gears. Even stranger was the eternity of time that passed before her next statement.
"She's all right, but her arm is sore. I'm on my way there."
I got the rest of the information as I dashed out the door and jumped in the Jeep.

Forty miles away, in the big city, my baby is injured and dealing with the Florida Highway Patrol on her own. I fly.

My wife who was closer to Gainesville, gets there first and feeds me info over the cell phone. She's okay, but her arm has a swelling that needs to be checked out, the truck is undriveable, the airbag deployed, no one in either car was hurt seriously...just scratches, the trooper is processing the scene now.

When I get there, the truck is clearly totalled. My girl is sitting on the base of a street light with ice on her arm. Her Mom is checking her from head to toe. Her boyfriend and his family live nearby and they are there. Emma and her boyfriend, who were shopping in Gainesville are there too. Another family friend has shown up also.

Forty miles away from home and she's surrounded by people who care about her. God bless them.

I roam the scene taking photos of both vehicles wondering how the officer will read this scene. There are no witnesses save the drivers and they both feel they were in the right.

Finally the officer emerges from her patrol car where she had been preparing her report. She calls it a draw...no one clearly at fault. It will be one for the insurance companies to iron out.

This will be expensive. Insurance rates will rise. There will be a replacement vehicle to buy. Lifestyles will be crimped and complicated with the absence of the girls truck. As I write, Katie's in the emergency room with her mom, I came home to call the insurance company. This will generate Dr. bills, tow truck bills, larger insurance bills...things that seem important.

They're not.

What's important, is that tomorrow, at 6:00pm on a beautiful Florida spring evening, on a smalltown high school football field in the middle of nowhere, I will read the names of the 2006 graduates as they proceed up to receive their diplomas...
...and my precious daughter will be one of them, smiling, happy ...alive.

34 comments:

doubleknot said...

I am so happy for you and your daughter that she is alright. She must be a very loved young lady to have so many people who care about her to be there so soon.
Happy Graduation.

Deb said...

Oh...my...god... I read ahead, as is my usual habit, and was relieved to see she's okay. How life can change in an instant.

I bet you will see the graduation ceremony in an entirely new light. Hugs to you and your family.

Floridacracker said...

Doubleknot,
Thanks.

Deb,
You know it. Hugs accepted. Thanks.

Tjilpi said...

Copy that sentiment.

Good to know it's only a bruise.

Mine are Hugh 15, 6'3"; and Julia 18, 5'2".

Phones ringing make me nervous.

Wayne said...

Your relief must be enormous. I'm so glad things turned out as good as they did.

Now you're really going to choke up at graduation, FC! Congrats all around.

pablo said...

I took a deep breath before I plunged in to your post today. I am glad for you (for all of you) that this didn't turn out much worse.

I received a similar call about five years ago. Car was totalled, but son was okay. I know what you're going through.

I suppose it's cold comfort to tell you that all of the financial issues will work themselves out.

Take heart and rely on the obvious family bonds you share.

John Cowart said...

Glad she's ok.
This post is powerful writing!

Floridacracker said...

Tjilpi,
Thanks mate. I know the phone call nervousness well.

Wayne,
I know...this is just what I needed ...

Pablo,
Thanks for the kindness and I know you're right, this will be a laugh years from now.

John,
Thank you. I wrote it as soon as I got off the phone with the insurance lady.

Hal at Ranch Ramblins said...

I'm glad your daughter is OK. My daughter has gone through the same type of experience twice. You are right, the time that elapses between "she's been in an accident" and "she's alright" feels like an eternity.

Now it will be twice as difficult to quell the lump in your throat as you read her name at graduation, but I am certain you'll do just fine, and your daughter will be as proud of you as you are of her.

roger said...

your beginning was a warning of some disaster. so glad that she is ok, and that she had so many people to comfort her. it will sharpen your already keen memory of her graduation. 6 pm must be about 3 pm our time. we'll be thinking of your family.

the call that all parents dread. i don't remember anything of the 80 mile drive from santa cruz to berkeley when my youngest broke her back in a fall. she is ok now.

robin andrea said...

I'm so relieved it turned out the way it did, FC. My stomach sank when I read your first sentence. Hugs to Katie and the whole family. We'll be thinking of you at graduation today, and we'll send cool, calm, and composed energy all the way from the great northwest.

Ava said...

Forty miles away ... just enough time for your imagination to run wild and fill you with worry. Hearing that they're all right just isn't the same as seeing it with your own eyes.

I'm so glad that your daughter is okay.

Ava

Laura said...

Oh wow, I could almost feel your relief throughout this post. That's the type of phone call you never, ever want to get. I am so glad she is okay!

Mrs. S said...

*hugs* to all of you. I'm so grateful that everything turned out okay.

But, could you stop making me cry, please?

Debbie said...

You said it, the inconvenience of the insurance company, medical bills, car pooling - - it all pales to what could have happened. Thank God everyone is OK. You had a rough Friday. After that, Saturday should be a breeze. I hope it gives you some comfort that, through your writing, there are so many of us that have grown to care about you and your family. We will all be thinking of you at the graduation. Best to you and yours. Group Hug all around.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Just marvelous, Cracker. Don't choke when you read her name, Bud.

Terri said...

Hi there,
First of all, thank goodness your daughter was okay. Laura from the Tampa Bay area put me in touch with your blog when she posted on my blog. I live on Cedar Key and she said you did also. I've been enthralled reading your blog (wonderful posts with great native Floridian info and photos) but it doesn't seem you live on the island from what I can figure out. Have a feeling you might be out by 347 or 345? Or are we closer neighbors than that?
At any rate, really enjoy your blog and will add you to my favorites and I'll be back to visit soon.
I attended the Cedar Key graduation this morning and will be blogging on it tomorrow. It was very special. Happy Graduation to your daughter.

swamp4me said...

You've probably read out her name by now...
Glad to hear that Katie wasn't seriously hurt in her accident.
Kids - you never stop worrying about them. My "boys" are now in their 20s and living on their own. Still, when the phone rings at an odd hour...

Floridacracker said...

Hal,
I know all parents go through these calls. Nice when they include the "they're okay" message.Thanks for the vote of confidence.

dpr,
thanks, i can imagine your 80 miles of worry, glad she came out of it okay.

Robin,
I feel it. Thank you.

Ava,
You're right, until you see them, you're not really sure they are okay. Thanks for the kindness.

Laura,
I thought you would be able to identify with this one.

Mrs. S,
Thanks for the hugs. Sorry about the tear part, but it did turn out okay.

Debbie,
Thank you so much for the kind words, and you are right about the other inconveiences...they pale.

Terri,
Laura is one smart and funny lady, but I think I posted so much about Cedar Key that it seems I live there. As for you, you should think about a career as a detective, your street guesses are very good. Thanks for the nice words, I will be visiting your site now that I know you're out there. I've got very good friends who teach at Cedar Key. Thanks for dropping in to Pure Florida.

Swampy,
Yes, I did and I DID NOT choke up.
:)
I can see that it will never end.
I accept the assignment.

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

I "ditto" Mrs. S above.

About now you should be in that stadium football field reading off the names of the graduates. I am getting teary eyed just thinking about you announcing Katie's name and especially under the recent circumstances.

Floridacracker said...

Abandoned,
It was perfect.

Zanne said...

I'm so sorry that this has happened to your Katie, but thank God everything turned out OK. Metal and glass can be replaced.

My own Sarah similarly totalled her car a few years ago. The call came in to me at work...someone saw her car in the ditch on the side of road and the ambulance pulling away. WARNING: Parents should NOT be allowed to drive after such a phone call. Not knowing any further details or the condition of my daughter I drove in a distraught state and almost got myself into a terrible accident.

Please, please...if you ever get a phone call like this have someone else drive you to the scene.

I'm so glad again that she's OK. I'm sure the graduation was awesome.

threecollie said...

Oh dear, I hadn't dropped by in a couple of days and when I saw your post I too had to read ahead. So glad she is all right...I am sure you are giving her and all your family extra hugs. Guess I had better go hug my son who is up early and being a pest.

rm said...

I'm so,so glad everything turned out ok.

Hugs from NC.

The MacBean Gene said...

Glad Katie is OK. And I'm glad you survived graduation.

Floridacracker said...

Zanne,
You make a very good point.

Threecollie,
Isn't it wonderful.

rm,
Thanks! We're okay.

Mac,
Both things were accomplished.

Duane Keys said...

Glad she's alright! Thanks for the reminder of what's important.

Terri said...

I'm smiling....about the career choice of detective. That's probably why I'm a writer...I love trying to figure things out. (smile)
But your photos were such great clues for me, it was fairly easy. Looking forward to hearing about your daughters graduation and the emotional part of it for you.

Floridacracker said...

Duane,
No problem, and thank you for the kind thoughts.

Terri,
If you figure it out...it's our secret. I like my anonymity.
Thanks.
I will be reading your CK grad story too!

thingfish23 said...

Don't I know it, brother.

I asure am glad she's okay, Fc.

rick said...

Glad to hear Katie is OK.When things are going well a situation seems to always break that run of days with few problems.Someone at work told me that his grandmother taught him that when a problem arises think for a moment(If in ten years I will not be upset over this situation then don't worry about it now.)It worked for me last night at 1030PM when JP's car had to be towed from University of North Florida back to St A to find out why it shut of on the side of the road and would not recrank.But most important is that Katie is OK because so many people experience a phone call that changes their life forever!!

Hick said...

Boy, am I glad that I came here today and not on Friday. I wasn't too concerned about her because I saw the beautiful pictures above this post.

Still...it's a scary thing to receive one of those calls. Mine was to tell me that my oldest had been airlifted by helicopter to a hospital 80 miles away. What a nightmare...he was okay, thank God.

Congrats on the graduation and the honorary degree in pronounciation.

Leslie said...

Whew, I'd been away for a few days so thankfully saw the graduation post before seeing this one. Nevertheless I have tears just running down my face.

I don't know if it's because you wrote of something all parents fear more than anything else, or relief that she's okay, or just the talent you have with words, but it really hit me.

I hug my kids all the time but next time I'll REALLY MEAN IT in a special way. Thanks for the reminder, and I'm so glad all is well with you and yours.

Floridacracker said...

Thingfish,
I know you see the other side of tragedy daily, nice to think of all the near misses that occur too. Thanks.

Rick,
I actually used the 10 year thing as I thought about the $ and inconvenience headaches associated with this accident. It works. Sorry to hear about your car problem!

Hick,
As parents, I guess we all go through these trials. Lucky us when they turn out okay.

Leslie,
Thanks, I suppose we need these reminders from time to time. We try never to part without a "I love you" in our house...even teenboy!