S-s-s-s-s-s-s-s. It wasn’t a loud sound. But it wasn’t a good sound — because it was not a normal sound to hear while driving down the road at 65 miles per hour. I directed my teenage driver daughter to pull off the road, which she did. I got out of our van to assess the situation — sure enough, a very, very flat tire.
For a suburbanite, this would be no big deal. Call the 800 number for AAA, and be back in business within 30 minutes. But God has so blessed me to live in a postcard. That means that I live in a very rural area. My flat tire happened just outside of a town with a population of less than 500 people, surrounded by miles of . . . nothing. A response from AAA in my part of the world, especially on a weekend, can take three hours on a good day. And at this time of year at my altitude and latitude, when the sun dips down behind the mountain range, it is very cold by 4 PM, and it’s usually pitch black an hour later. And in these parts, pitch black = pitch black. Literally, the only light would be the light of the moon, the stars, and my blinking hazard lights. I made a mental note about how it was the time of year when I needed to start always having warm winter clothing stowed in the car for emergencies such as these.
I called my husband and was thankful to hear him answer his phone, as cell phone service can be very spotty out here. He, of course, said he’d be on his way as soon as he could. But he was on a hike with our littlest ones outside of our neighboring town miles away. With their short legs and strides, it was going to take them a while to even get back to the car, and much more time to get out to where we were. Resigned, I settled down to wait for a long while.
Many, many cars passed us. I wondered whether anyone would stop to see if we were okay. In this age where everyone has a cell phone, I certainly wasn’t expecting it. But then, someone did — a kind old man, a resident of that town of under-500. He told me that he had passed us and was about a mile down the road, when he decided that he should turn around and see if we needed help. He figured, he told us, that if we didn’t need him, at least he had stopped to find out.
Long story short, he started changing our flat tire. My husband arrived, and they worked together to get it done. By the end of the experience, the gentleman was beaming. He had been amazed to learn, in the course of our chatting, how many children we have (well beyond the replacement number). He shared with us how very alone he was: “From the moment my feet hit the floor in the morning, I do everything alone, all day long.” He told us how he has been struggling from some depression and anxiety. He commented wistfully how, one day, we were going to have a lot of grandchildren. He was so happy to have met us and to have had the opportunity to help us. At the end of our conversation, he exclaimed, “I feel like a million bucks!!!”
I will always be grateful to God for our flat tire today and for sending this man to remind me of my blessings. When I am faced with the mountains of dirty laundry, the endless noise, the tiny Legos underfoot that hurt my feet so much when I step on them, the never-ending cycle of messy kitchen, clean kitchen, messy kitchen, clean kitchen, . . . I will strive to remember the alternative — the endless hours of quiet and alone-ness when my children have all grown and gone. And I will remember that the laundry, the noise, the scattered Legos, the dirty dishes are all signs of my many, many blessings.
May God bless you, sir, for your kindness to us today.