I was almost killed in a car accident last night, which kinda puts things in perspective, ya know?
Gimme a minute to explain.
With my daughter and son-in-law being separated, my wife, son and I are living with my daughter, five-year-old grandson and 10-month-old granddaughter. It’s a lively house, to be certain. We all get along wonderfully, so there’s always noise and laughter at home.
We’re all so busy that “guy time” for me and my 19-year-old son, Trey, isn’t a weekly occurrence like it used to be. We both accept this as fact with no animosity whatsoever, as we’re all happy sharing a home. That being said, however, when we do have guy time, we try and make the most of it.
Like last night.
A couple weeks ago I knew we’d have last evening free, and planned to make it special for Trey and me. We’re both huge music fans, and he has an extensive LP collection (yes, actual RECORDS), so I wanted each of us to choose our favorite album, wait for the sun to go down and listen to it by candlelight.
I chose KISS Alive II, since it’s the album which introduced me to rock & roll. When I first heard it I was a chubby, ten-year-old, and my dad had just bought our first house in the metropolis of New Franklin, Missouri, population 1,100. My Uncle Aaron—only 2 ½ years older than me, so he was more like a cousin than uncle—and I were waiting in the new house for dad and grandpa to bring the first load of furniture, so we could help unload. It was an old house, and all the windows were painted shut, and with it being July in Missouri, it was hot in there.
We were miserable and bored when Aaron mentioned he had just bought a new record. I told him one of the few items I DID have in the new house was my old suitcase/record player. So we ran upstairs to my new room, sat in the middle of the floor, plugged it in and put the first of the two-album set on the player.
There we sat, dripping in sweat, and transfixed. Words can’t really describe the feeling, other than to say “I was hooked.” The imagery, the music, everything. I’ve been a die-hard fan of hard rock and heavy metal ever since.
Fast-forward to last night. We listened to about half of “Alive II,” and then Trey, instead of the original album he’d planned to listen to (Wintersun’s first recording), decided he wanted to play some of his favorite tunes.
To begin, he played “Child in Time” by Deep Purple, circa 1970. Jimi Hendrix showed up next, transcending time with “All Along The Watchtower.” Trey is pretty old-school, in case you hadn’t noticed. Next, he played “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin, and ended our amazing, candle-lit, rock & roll escapade with “A Change of Seasons” by Dream Theater.
The lyrics which really stood out to me were the following:
“Carpe diem, seize the day
Life will not always be this way
Hear the sounds
Cherish your life while you’re still around”
(“A Change of Seasons” © 1995 Dream Theater, lyrics by Mike Portney)
Trey is not only a music fan, he’s also a musician, so he really feels the music. That’s a trait I’m proud to have passed on. For this evening, he donned his favorite hat, and the candle burned in front of him as he closed his eyes and sang along, word-for-word, to every song.
He looked so cool I had to take a picture:
Following this amazing time of music and reflection, we decided to engage in our second favorite activity: Chinese take-out. On the way home we were jamming on Judas Priest, laughing and enjoying our time together. The smell of our upcoming feast filled the car, and it suddenly occurred to me how much fun I was having.
After waiting for the green light at a major intersection, we followed the car in front of us across the street, when all of a sudden, Trey screamed…
“DAD WATCH OUT!!!”
I slammed on my brakes first and then looked to my left to see a young man driving an early 70s model car (not sure of the make). Despite his light being red for at least 20 seconds, he went plowing right past the other stopped cars, only to look up just in time to see me and also slam on his brakes. If Trey hadn’t screamed, I wouldn’t have stopped and the dude would’ve t-boned me.
As fast as he was going, he probably would’ve killed me, and possibly Trey as well.
I looked into the young man’s eyes and saw…NOTHING. Not shock, not apology, nothing. I have no clue what was going through his head.
Man, we were shook up, to say the least. When we got home, my wife, Laura, was in the bedroom watching a “Good Witch” marathon she’d recorded from the Hallmark Channel. Trey and I had planned on watching the movie “Mississippi Burning” by ourselves to end our guy time, but after asking if he minded, we both asked her to join us.
I just needed to be near my baby, after such a traumatic event. I needed her to hold my hand. I just needed to know everything was OK.
After we ate, Laura and I sat and held hands as we watched the movie. I paid about half attention to it, but couldn’t get the whole thing out of my mind.
Thank God for His protection. It obviously wasn’t my time, but still, it rattled me enough to remind me how blessed I am.
I’d like to implore you to take time to enjoy the good things: family, love, laughter, music, movies, pumpkin spice lattes, whatever. That last one was for my wife and daughter; I prefer a big, green Monster energy drink, myself. But to each his own.
See, the way I figure it, you can try and make the most of today, or you can squander it away being a miserable jerk. It’s your choice, but I can tell you, life is much sweeter if you embrace its challenges with a grin.
So take time to look around at your many blessings today. Ya know that whole “ya never know how long we have left” thing? Yeah, that’s the truth, friend.
“Human beings are frail and temporary, like grass, and the glory of man fleeting like blossoms of the field. The grass dries and withers and the flowers fall off, but the Word of the Lord endures forever (1 Peter 1:24-25a)”