Jan. 23, 2008: Angels
To The Editor:
It was New Year‚Äôs Eve and my husband went out to get eggs and milk for breakfast. My sisters had come to spend the holiday with us and we were running out of supplies. It was 3:30 when he left.
A half-hour later I got a call. On the other end was a very calm and reassuring voice. ‚ÄúThere‚Äôs been an accident. But don‚Äôt worry. Your husband is OK. There‚Äôs just a little damage to your car. Could you come by to drive your husband home? We‚Äôre about 200 yards into Fleischmanns.‚Äù
I went into shock. I started shaking. My brothers-in-law hurried me into the car and we drove to Fleischmanns. That‚Äôs when I saw the angels. The first was the gentle, kind neighbor who bundled himself up against the cold to come out of his house and help my husband after he had seen all the telephone poles vibrate with the impact of the crash. He purposely stayed calm so as not to exacerbate the scene. He stayed with us until help came.
And then the other angels came in the form of the EMS and the fire volunteers. All locals, all willing to come out in the cold on a holiday night to help and reassure two total strangers. I‚Äôll never forget the silhouette of the young man running down Main Street with his fireman‚Äôs coat flapping in the wind and that unmistakable fire hat on his head. Out of breath, he charged up to us. ‚ÄúHow can I help?‚Äù I wanted to cry. In 2007, in a world where everyone wants to kill each other, this young man wants to help us. I started to feel secure again.
One man grabbed his light and started to direct traffic. Despite my husband‚Äôs protests, the EMS assisted him into the ambulance and then on to the emergency room. My husband had glass in his hand and eye. As a diabetic he could have developed a severe infection if he hadn‚Äôt been treated correctly. They did just that. I tried to get names to thank everyone, but words kept going in and out of my head so fast. I kept losing thoughts. I remember a kind female volunteer who calmly listened to my jabbering and kept reassuring me that everything was going to be OK.
The car was a total wreck. My pups in the back of the car were in shock. I was numb. The volunteers took charge of everything. They called the police and a kindly officer came by. I call him kindly because he didn‚Äôt‚Äô have to be compassionate as he assessed the situation and wrote up his report. Being official is one thing but being official and compassionate is angelic.
Craig from Main Street Auto took charge of the tow. Why is he an angel? After all, he‚Äôs getting paid for the job. That‚Äôs not the point. He didn‚Äôt just tow the car. He saw that we were paralyzed with shock and he tried to help. He shared his knowledge and advice with us so that our dealings with the insurance company would go as smoothly as possible. You don‚Äôt get that in The City.
We are transplants from Manhattan. We were weekenders for 15 years and now, as retirees, we‚Äôre full timers. We‚Äôre used to dealing with a ‚Äúbig city‚Äù mentality and indifference. We lived near ground zero and we saw the huge hearts that police and firefighters can bring to their jobs but it took a black ice car accident in a little town in the Catskills for us to understand that love and compassion first hand.
These people are Volunteers. They didn‚Äôt even get a proper ‚Äúthank you‚Äù from us that night. We were focused on our accident and our own problems. Without fanfare they arrived and took care of the situation and then they quietly faded back to their houses when all was done. I hope, with this letter, they will know just how much they mean to us all. I express myself best on paper but I can bet that these and all the other angel volunteers up here in the mountains have helped countless other stranded, shocked, hurt and otherwise helpless victims who were only able to say ‚Äúthank you‚Äù with their hearts.
God bless you all! And you will all be in our prayers forever. You eased us through a tragedy we would never have been able to have braved alone. We now live securely in our mountain house knowing that there are teams of these wonderful, caring angels scattered around our neighborhood to help us.
Barbara DeMaria and Carmelo Barrientos,