Mary Beth Writes

My friend Karen texted last night that she is okay but she had been in a car accident in the afternoon. A driver had not stopped at a stop sign, thus plowing into Karen’s rear driver-side door.

Her accident reminded me of one I was in with my son years ago. This is the newspaper column I wrote about the event.

Hold a good thought for Karen today, okay?  She texted this morning, rather poetically, “I feel like I’ve been dragged through a knothole.”


It was late last Friday afternoon and son and I were driving south on Memorial towards a birthday party he needed to be at in a few minutes. I noticed an old beater car careening down 11th street at a very high speed. I realized that it was going to arrive at the upcoming intersection the same moment as me.

Luckily, I lived in Chicago so long I don't expect other drivers to be sane. When I saw that car blitzkrieging down the side street, I did what any overzealous former Chicago driver would do. I checked my blind spot, then swerved to the right.  Maybe the beater would slam on its brakes at the intersection, but I was going to try to get out of there ... just in case.

This instinct is probably why, later, my son told the police officer, "If I had to be in an accident, I'm glad it was with my mom." The beater never stopped. It tried to turn north onto Memorial while going 70 mph. The huge arc required for the turn slammed it into the back of my car.

Everything goes into hyper-timelessness while you are having a car accident. The din of crunching metal surrounds you. You feel the impact of your body jerking, the moment vibrates all the way into your blood and comes back out the tuning fork of your spine.

The thud was still reverberating when I heard the screeching sound of the beater as it jerked away to speed north in the exit style known as "Hit and Run". If you know anything about a full-size copper brown sedan with a recently smashed in left front - could you call the police, please?

Son and I simultaneously mumbled "Are you okay?" and then "Yeah, are you?" He found his glasses first. The impact had knocked them off his face and into the side window so hard the frame was bent.

He bent the frames back and put them on.  I began to realize, not knowing quite how this came to be, that we were crosswise in the intersection.  The impact had spun our car 180 degrees.               

I couldn't find my glasses. Son looked around, "Oh, here they are." He calmly fished them out from the crack between the console and my seat.

I started to back the car out of the intersection. I wondered why it felt as though I were hitting the curb. I climbed out to look. The rear right tire was no longer upright, it had been knocked so hard it resembled a falling over Ferris Wheel. The curb sensation was the edge of the tire bumping the body of the car.

That was the moment I began to understand that if I hadn't veered, the incredible impact of the accident would have slammed into the driver's door and then into me.

My son rushes in the door after school, eats three brownies in one gulp, and then gives me a grin and a hug. Because we almost bought the farm together, we remember how much we like each other.




Really sorry I was the inspiration for this one! The car plowed into the drivers side (not the passengers side) - so, yeh , I’m really lucky that I am only sore today and that nothing is broke. I’m old and I have osteoporosis! Hyper-timelessness. So strange. So true. I feel loved from all my friends and family. I am mourning my car and taking it easy today.
Mary Beth's picture

Yep, I looked at your photo with all that damage to the driver's side and then said passenger's side. Hah. I went back and fixed the text. Be well.
Leonard's picture

Really sorry about the accident, but that line almost makes up for the rest of the awful-ness!

Add new comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

When History isn't in Museums

I stayed twice for several days with a Maya family in Guatemala’s altiplano. This adventure happened during my second day of my second stay with them.

Senor Jorge, the 50ish father of the family, asked if I would like to take a walk to see a Mayan antiquity. It took a minute to understand his question since my high school Spanish was a long time ago.

Yes, I would!

Genealogy, Comets, and Pedigree Collapse

 We are still able to see NEOWISE in the evening. 

More info about how to see it here: 

Len took this photo a few nights ago. The white stripes in the foreground are lightning bugs!

I wrote this column in 1997 and remembered it this morning.       



 I wrote this in 2008 when I was the coordinator of the Jail Employment Program in the Racine County Jail.


Dear Pals,

Tuesday morning the four women in my current Jail Employment Program group went out from my office, per usual, to look for work.

"Broken Days"

If you type my name into the Internet this quote pops up; "If growing up is the process of creating ideas and dreams of what life should be, maturity is letting go again."  

The line is from this essay, Broken Days, published in Mothering magazine in 1987.

Later it was published in the Utne Reader.


Hurricane Charley, 2004 "Why yes, we were there."

 I went back in my file of old writing and found these two columns I wrote in August of 2004. This was the FIRST time we had a vacation sidetracked by a hurricane…


Hurricane Charley

Part I

For our family vacation, we'd made reservations at a resort in the Florida Keys.  We thought a week to swim, read, explore a little, eat great seafood, and just generally kick back to enjoy each other -- would be wonderful. 

I still bet it would. 

We sure don't know.

Tag Cloud

9/11 17 minutes 500 Words AARPtaxes AAUW abortion Acadia accident Accountable Advent anniversary antlers apples Arrows Ashland August Augustine baby balance Baldwin Barkskins Beauty Becky Becoming Esther Berry birthday bistro BLM BookReport books boy scout Bread BrokenDays BuyAngry Cabeza de Vaca Cahokia calendars Canada cat romance cats cello Choosing Christmas cilantro Cinnabuns circus clouds Clowns clutter Colonialism comet ComfortZone CommonSense community consumerism Cops Corvid-19 Courage Covid-19 Crazy creditreport creosote CrimeShows death Debate December DecisionFatigue decluttering depression Destination Today Detroit disasterprep dogs dollhouse Dreams Duty Easter eBay Eclipse EmilyDickinson Esquipulas exit polls eyes Fable FairTrade farmer firealarm Fitness Five Flexible flu Fort de Chartres frame Franc FrancGarcia friends frugal Frugality frustration Ft.Ticonderoga Gannets Garden GarfieldParkConservatory Gaspe genius geode GeorgeFloyd ghosts gorgons GovernorThompsonStatePark groceries Guatemala guns happiness HaveYouEver? Healthinsurance HelleKBerry heroes hike History home HomeRepair Honduras Hope HouseinBlueRiver hurricane impeachment Innkeeper integrity InternetPrivacy Interview InviteMe2Speak James Baldwin JoyceAndrews Judy JulianofNorwich justice Karen Lamb LangstonHuges LaphamPeak laundry LeeLeeMcKnight lemming Len Light Lincoln Little Women LockedOut Loki loneliness Love Ludington Macaw macho Manitoulin MargaretFuller Maria Hamilton Marquette marriage Marsden Hartley masks Mayan MayaWorks meme Memories MilesWallyDiego MindfulChickens Mistakes moon Mother MothersDay mouser movies museums must-haves Mustapha Nancy Drew New Mexico New York City Nomadland Ocotillo OscarRomero osprey Outside oximeter Parade mayhem PastorBettyRendon Paul Hessert PDQ Penny persimmon poetry Preaching privacy Protest Quern quest Rabbit holes racism recipe recipes Remember Reruns responsetoKapenga Retirement rhubarb rime RitesofPassage Roses Ruth SamaritanWoman Sanctuary Sandhillcranes Santuario de Chimayo SaraRodriguez sculpture Sermon ServantsoftheQuest sewing Shepherd Shontay ShortStory sick sickness Slower snow Social Security SofritoBandito SpaceShuttle spring square feet staining stele Stereotypes StoryStarts stress Survival swim taxes teenager thankgsgiving Thanksgiving TheBridge ThePerpetualYou ThreeBillBoards ThreeThings Three Things TidalBore TimeBeing toddler Tom tortillas Trains travel Traveler Tubing turtle Twilight Bark Tyrone UnrelatedObservations Up North urgency vacation vaccine Valentines vanilla Vietnam VivianWokeUpDrowning vole WalkingAndSeeing Wampanaog war WarsanShire weather weaving wedding WhyAttendChurch Willa WillaCather Wisteria
Ad Promotion