A Miracle…


Nancy's car...

A Day I’ll Never Remember 

 This story took place nearly 25 years ago July 31, 1988.  The date will never be forgotten, but that day, will never be remembered.

It was a hot, record-setting afternoon (105 degrees Fahrenheit), but our friends from St. Paul, Minnesota chose this scalding hot day to see our new place (which at that time was 4 years old) in rural New Richmond, Wisconsin.  However, the house was built without central air and so to get away from the heat we went to the nearby Cedar Creek Inn.

The afternoon heat became the heat of the evening and so may have dropped 5 degrees but maybe not that much.  Really, does it make a difference once it reaches 100?

The Saturday night races would begin at 8:00.  Cedar Lake Speedway was about a ¼ mile northwest of our home and the car accident happened just a ¼ mile southwest of our place.

The wives remained at the corner tavern with the dusty dirt parking lot while Mike, and I left and were outside viewing Nancy’s new car because he hadn’t seen it before.  We met the ladies down there in my pickup.

“Enough looking Mike.  Want to go for a ride?”  I knew Mike didn’t like driving but I just loved it, and especially my wife’s newly purchased car.

The car was a brilliant black outside while the inside was softer black cut velour.  There were smoke colored T-Tops.  The car had wide P205/60-15 Goodyear Eagle GT tires.  Those tires were on the unforgettable and stylish brushed aluminum slotted wheels.  The ground effects contributed to the sleekness of the body and the car looked as though it were hovering about 4 inches off the ground and ready to pounce!

The interior was like entering into the cockpit of a future car…like the talking “Knight Rider,” have you ever seen that television series?   There was a wondrous deep-sounding bass that you felt in your gut and heard as if in the recording studio.  You controlled how much bass or treble to where the car sounded like a true concert hall. The 5 band graphic equalizer made you feel you were somewhere at the band’s studio. There was a pump for lumbar support in the driver’s seat and a chronograph that allowed one to time their speed in whatever intervals pleased them.  I did that once in 5-second intervals until reaching a speed of 140 mph, then my turn was upon me.  I had to travel past the turn-off because I didn’t want to slam the brakes and perhaps put me into a spin.

We got in and I turned the key listening to the low, smooth, inhaling of the turbocharged engine.  Mike glanced in my direction and asked, “Aren’t you going to put your seat belt on Steve?”

Well no, I never wore one for when I began driving they were only considered a nuisance, something you could maybe find in the crack of the seat.  “Na, we’re only going to my house about ½ a mile up the road, well you know.”  The nearly fatal mistake.

I took it slow so as not to raise any dust and mar the shiny black finish until we crossed the bridge on C and turned onto CC only about 100 feet.  Loud music, tops off, air conditioning on I slammed through the gears, 5 of them.

Mike looked in my direction and said, “Both hands were on the wheel; you were driving fast but you always did and then all I heard was ewww…owww…ahhh…ughh as branches, leaves, sticks and corn stalks were coming in, Steve!  I yelled but there was no answer.

The car stopped flipping and ended up in the middle of the field.  Dazed, I called out your name again, but it did no good.  I tried opening my door but could not.  I sucked my gut in a little and pulled myself through the roof where the panels had been removed.

Aimlessly, I got out and away from the car and began walking, trying to find a road.

Finally, a road  and I saw somebody in the ditch bent over and a woman standing by his side.  I don’t know why but I began running towards that body lying in the ditch and screaming, don’t you die you sonofabitch!”  I don’t know why I did that because I was still about a 100 yards away, hell. I couldn’t see if that was you lying there but who else could it be?

Well, miraculously I didn’t die because God’s Grace was upon me; why was I saved and who else could have done that for me?

I had been pronounced dead and given my “Last Rites,” I lay in a coma for 2 months and spent more than a year at hospitals, nursing homes, and finally a rehabilitation center.

I took driver’s training again and like when I was 16 passed the test the first time.  I went to a number of schools never finding or being able to keep up because of vision, dexterity and speech problems.

I lead a humbled life this time around because there are still traces of that near-fatal car accident in me.  Thank you, Lord, for showing me the “Light.”

Steve Richie

Hi folks, Two lives in one lifetime. The first me, lived to age thirty-four. That Steve was overly confident and oozing with pride. Then, on a record heat-setting day (107º) here in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota and western Wisconsin, a one car near-fatal wreck left me in a two-month long coma. I emerged much as I was before minus certain physical capabilities, but my mind seemed mostly in tact. The crash and its effects did not change me (I emerged a happy individual) but the deeds perpetrated against me in the ensuing months from my wife of sixteen years scared and humbled me as I was dragged down with nothing left by my wife who now had guardianship over all of our accounts. And neither would she allow me to see our kids. She took everything out of, "Our" names and changed them to her name only; then would not allow me to our home and divorced me. I was angry, but no more. I spent half of 1988 and more than half of 1989 in hospitals, nursing homes and a three month stint at a head-injury rehab center where I was being taught how to re-enter society as this different person, that I didn't know. I was not able to return to my previous line of work, a self-employed decorator, you know, painting and paperhanging. It was a physical job which required much dexterity, finesse, and a good grasp of numbers. I returned to the beginning, school, but on a community college level. One of the instructor's liked my writing and I began focusing my attention on that. I attended classes at, "The Loft," A Place for Writers in Minneapolis. While there, a classmate of mine was having her friend from New York, a CBS executive, to her home for the holidays and asked me if she could do a critique on a couple chapters of a book I was writing, "A Day I'll Never Remember" and I obliged. When she returned to class the following Monday she told me that the exec wanted a ten-page synopsis of the book for a possible movie; I was excited. After obliging for that also, I never saw or heard from her or the guy from CBS. Next thing I knew I was watching a movie called, "Regarding Henry" starring Harrison Ford and the scenes of therapy were exactly like what I went through and had written about. Regarding Henry - could've been my story except that, "Henry" got his head injury from a gunshot and his wife stayed with him throughout the ordeal. Coincidence I'm sure, though, the therapy scenes entailed what I described in the book so I always wondered..... My hope, my dream is to bolster our income for my daughter and for myself. I am and have been raising this beautiful, talented little girl who was diagnosed with autism at age two, since 2006 singlehandedly. I divorced her mother the same year following complaints that I spent too much time with our daughter. However, Stephanie began school with no need for special education. She has been reading since age four and understanding what she'd read. Stephanie maintains straight "A's" on her report card, has published two books (through school) and has been selected as an, "Honors" student for seventh grade English. My ex moved to New York to be closer to her sister and has been remarried now for a number of years. Well, that's only a snippet of my sixty-one years and I would like to thank you for reading, thank you.

4 comments

  • Anyone who has an ounce of empathy in brain or body would be on your side, Steve — but it’s so healing when the person on your side has “inside” knowledge of what you are going through, isn’t it?

    The cognitive scientists say that “man is a social organism.” I think that means that we all have a yearning to be more than known and loved – we yearn to be “seen” – understood and accepted – our experiences validated somehow. Why does it seem so hard to get that sometimes?

    You and I (and the amazing Edie) seem to give it easily – maybe because it has not been given easily to us and we know how much it hurts? Empathy, I mean – the kindness instinct, “Do unto others.” If I could bottle it I’d pour it out into the water supply!

    Your story is amazing – and my heart hurts as I read about your struggles and your hopes and dreams (and fears) for your daughter. It sounds, from what I read here, that, despite ALL, you are an amazing Dad and that she is growing into an amazing young woman. THAT is your legacy – not bad, huh?

    ~~~~~
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –

    Like

  • This is definitely a tragic accident. Yes, we all make poor judgment calls, but how long should people be placing blame. The accident is exactly what it “An Accident!” You didn’t go out and say you are going to have an accident and have a TBI! No one deserves a TBI … an injury that is incomprehensible and many never understand unless they are on that journey.

    The average age of TBI is 25, males more than females simply because males are greater risk takers. It doesn’t mean you are or ever were a bad person. It just proves millions are also in this category. I am so thankful you are sharing this story here. I am putting your story on my blog and will also keep it under Personal Stories on home page. I just need to complete that or add as we go along.

    Have you been able to tell your story to high school students before prom weekend? It might be too hard to talk about, but so many could learn … if only they would listen. I’m happy you lived, as you are helping others and you have a precious daughter.

    Take care and stay safe. Edie

    Like

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