A Car Crash from Two Perspectives

Often how we experience life is just a matter of perspective. A recent family crisis, where my seventy-nine year old uncle was sent to the ICU after a horrendous car accident, reminded me of this lesson.

 

Uncle

Nomad life coaching

My uncle had always been a youthful free spirit. He always tried to be outside, near mountains, and having fun. Managing a campground in Eagle's Nest, New Mexico for my father in the 80s. Working on construction projects from Colorado to California in the 90s. Eventually retiring to the mountains of Mexico, where between regular card games, his new medicare-paid knees allowed him to stay out on the dance floor into the wee hours. Barrel chested and strong, his good posture helped him maintain his full 6'5" frame, even as the decades passed by.

Several times per year he nonchalantly drives sixteen hours between Guadalajara and Houston, like he was running errands. But this last trip was anything but routine.

 

Cousin

Well... you can imagine how she reacted when, on a quiet Sunday afternoon, she received a call that her almost eighty year old father (my uncle) had flipped his 1998 Jeep Cherokee over several times on Interstate 10 a few hours from the Mexican border. Words like despair, terror, and anger can't fully communicate the extent of such trauma on the human psyche and soul.

When she arrived at the ICU in San Antonio the next day this is what she saw: her unconscious father, covered in bandages head to toe, hooked up to a breathing machine, and a swollen face with stitches where they reattached his left ear. What couldn't be seen but was surely felt: eight broken ribs, four broken vertebrae, and a partially collapsed lung.

Questions followed...

What happened?

How?

Why?

What are the doctors doing about it?

Her years of nursing experience both helped and hindered her. She knew all the right questions to ask, but also felt like it was her responsibility to save his life.

When I saw her 48 hours after the wreck, 24 hours after she had arrived at the ICU, she hadn't fully recovered from the shock and anguish of the initial news. Tears of grief were always nearby.

But I saw my uncle's situation differently.

 

Nephew