Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Recently, I bought a '99 Mercury Marquis. It was a model that I have admired for a long time. The purpose of the vehicle purchase, a second car for us, was to reduce the logistical nightmare of balancing ministry, home chores, music lesson runs, daily commutes for our college student daughter, etc., all on one vehicle.

I had been looking at cars ever since we bought our Toyota Sienna van. However, the right opportunity had not come and we were looking at being as wise with money as possible. Increasingly, the balancing act became maddening. Times I could have done one aspect of a ministry or another went undone or delayed.

The time seemed right when I looked in a car lot and saw a light green Mercury Marquis. It had just under 72,000 miles and was evidently garage kept by one owner, as far as I remember. I number crunched and I talked with my spouse. I asked for advice and for prayers. To many, the time seemed right.

I had certain expectations before buying the second vehicle. I wanted my very busy and oft-times delayed mechanic to be able to look at the car when I did and give his approval. I prayed for a deep discount. Everything lined up beautifully, and I took home that beautiful Marquis. My children loved it and my toddler daughter favored the vehicle. In one day, I visited four homes. The car's purpose was well underway.

One of the things my wife and I did was to share the transporting of our college daughter, Beth. Often enough the morning commute was done by my wife. On Dec. 6, just two weeks after purchasing the Marquis, I was in the driver seat and Beth the front passenger of the Mercury and we were making good time.

It was finals week. Beth had just gone through some mourning for the shockingly sudden death of one of the school's beloved music professors. Dr. Sam Hsu was someone my wife and I knew well also and had in our home to celebrate my birthday. I had just gone on my second visit to Temple University Hospital the day before to see one of our members who was involved in a tragic accident at home that left her with 25% of her 90 year old body covered with second and third degree burns.

I made a left turn from Woodbourne Road onto Business Route 1. Suddenly, a Ford F-150 XLT appeared just one to three feet from us! The next thing we experienced were airbags and a bloody lip with several cuts on Beth's face.

The damage to the vehicle was disabling while the Blue Ford truck was still able to be driven. Thank God we were okay and walked away from a vehicle that would later be called "totaled." Shocked, shaken, we stood there and tried to figure out what exactly happened. Long story short, Beth's injuries healed quickly without intervention and the police report came a week later with the assessment that I had caused the accident.

While trying to be a good steward of this purchase, I decided to forego collision coverage for liability. I wanted to make sure I could pay for this addition to our expenses. For those who know what that means, I have just lost about $4,000 but I kept my daughter Beth. One is costly, the other is priceless.

I have to admit that I was upset. How could such careful planning in buying this vehicle and a record of 26 years of accident-free driving result in a crash that the investigating police felt was my fault? I acknowledge that even a good driver as myself could in fact make a mistake. Maybe it was my fault.

I did count my blessings that day when I got home. Here is the list.

1) Beth and I are okay, though sorry for her minor injury to the lips.

2) That the impact was at the front right of the car. A little further and Beth would have got the truck that hit us right in the side.

3) Thankful that we were able to push the doors open (damage to them on the end) and get out on our own

4) Thankful that the other driver was also okay

5) Thankful that the other driver and attending officers and EMT's were all nice.

6) Thankful that Beth was still able to go to school

7) Thankful for the family of the above-mentioned member, that though they have their own sorrow, were concerned for us too. (Note: she died the same morning as my accident)

8) Thankful for Bill Embley, who appeared seemingly out of nowhere to my side.

9) Also for his ride home so that my wife didn't have to pick me up.

10) thankful also to a merciful God who gives and takes away. Blessed be His name and I am so thankful that He chose not to take our Elisabeth away.

11) And thankful to friends who have taken the time to express their well wishes and sorrow at our accident in this busy, rainy day during the Christmas season.

12) One more thankful post: the other several cars on my list of prospectives to purchase were small Hondas and Toyotas. Imagine what a truck could have done to one of them.

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