Friday, September 11, 2009

Memories of Fright

Memories come in different forms. Some are pleasant, others are not. The ones I'll relay today are those which caused fear in my heart at various times.

Returning to memories of school days, aside from the fears caused by bomb drills, there was Nov 22, 1963. I was sitting in Mr. Marley's history class, listening as he droned on about who-knows-what, when there came a knock on the door. A teacher spoke briefly to Mr. Marley in the hall, and when he returned he told the class that President Kennedy had been shot. It was a moment of fright for me, wondering if they'd catch the man who committed an act that would change the course of our country.

Then, in later times came one of the most terrifying days in the history of the United States. On Sept 11, 2001, there were numerous attacks on our own soil. It was unthinkable that someone or a group could dream up something that would cause such a multitude of deaths, such devastation and havoc! As I sat at my office desk, I could not think clearly all day. I wanted to know what was happening and why. After awhile, it came to light that it was terrorists who were targeting us. My job at that time was at a home heating oil company, an actual terminal which supplied other companies with their oil for deliveries. Our employer was very concerned about the possibility of a terrorist act upon oil terminals, and he briefed us as to taking precautions and keeping our eyes open for anything unusual at our facility. Fear gripped us at different points of time and in various ways. It was a horrible time, and I'm concerned that many of us have forgotten how it felt the day our world was rocked by those who caused our country such wickedness.

On a personal note, another time stands out in my mind. In July, 1997, I was calmly driving my van with my infant granddaughter in the carseat in the rear. A man was running toward me, barefoot and without a shirt. His hands were held high in the air and he reminded me of Sylvester Stallone in the 'Rocky' movies. He ran in the middle of the road, weaving about the yellow line. I slowed the van, and honked my horn. He was oblivious. I thought that if I continued, I might hit him, as his path was erratic. I pulled toward the right side of the lane, and stopped. Thinking quickly, I reached over and locked all the doors and electrically rolled up the windows. I honked the horn again, as he continued to run toward me. Suddenly, even as I blew the horn, he ran directly into the front of my van, and holding on to the windshield wipers, he gazed at me through the windshield.

I prayed and begged God for safety and wisdom as to what to do. He held to the wipers and kept looking at me in an odd way. I couldn't drive forward, I could hurt him. I decided to put the car into reverse and backed up very slowly, all the while, honking the horn.

He held on for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, he let go, and laid down in the road. A Volvo came along side my stopped car, passing on the right. I saw a woman passenger look back and use her cell phone. They must have thought I'd hit the man lying in the road, and I assumed they were calling the police. They pulled up the road a good distance, and stopped. Meanwhile,
the half-clothed man was up and running again, in the middle of the east-bound lane, straight into the path of the bus to the Springs. They had to pull off the road, as well. Finally, the man decided it was time to rest, right where he was, in the middle of the road. About that time, the police showed up and spoke with the people in the Volvo, then to me, long enough to tell me to stay put. The policeman went to the man, and eventually got him cuffed and into the squad car.

The officer came back to me for the story, and other officers had arrived on the scene. They spoke to the other drivers, and then took the man away. When the local paper came out later that week, the article stated that the man had been taken to Stonybrook Hospital where he wreaked havoc with the in-take office at the E.R. Apparently he was out of his mind, and they attributed it, at least in part, to some kind of drugs.

Life brings fearful moments, yes. Some of those replay themselves at times, and I go through the 'what ifs'. But, most often, I remember them, count my blessings, and move on. After all, we cannot live in peace if we allow fear to control our lives. I cannot do that. I choose to live...and to live in peace.

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