Life full of sometimes dangerous twists, turns

By Judy Brandon

Have you ever taken some common event in your life for granted? I have and a particular road trip showed me that sometimes we do not reach our destination and life changes drastically in the process.

This eye-opening experience came for me when some years ago when Annie, Buffy, Mother and I were driving at dusk though the Salt River Canyon in Arizona. This is a winding road that meanders between steep mountains on one side and deep rugged canyons on the other. The highway is narrow and keeps careful drivers cautious and the not so careful taking chances that could be fatal.

Our trip was ordinary until we rounded one of the sharp corners on the highway. That is when we saw in the distance the blinking lights of ambulances and police cars. Descending cars had been stopped, flares set up on the highway and state troopers had halted traffic from both directions.

We pulled up behind the last car in line. As the line of cars behind us grew, the news passed from car to car that a terrible accident had happened up ahead. One car had tried to pass another on a narrow curve and crashed into an oncoming car and three others. The estimate was that four had been critically injured and several had died.

Soon we heard the sounds of emergency helicopters and saw them shine their spotlights, searching for a place to put down on that steep hillside. We could hear as they let down, and several minutes later, with the critically wounded loaded, the helicopters lifted straight up into the air, carrying the injured back to hospitals in Phoenix. Two ambulances left and came our way. Five wreckers loaded the flattened and smashed cars onto their beds and followed.

All this time, the line of cars behind us continued to grow. After two hours, the last of the wounded were loaded and taken to medical centers. Finally the police gave the first in our line of vehicles to go on down the highway.

That’s when we had our first look at the crash site. As we crept behind the cars in front of us, we passed flattened highway guard rails and viewed car parts, clutter, oil spills, even some personal items along the edge of the highway.

I wondered about those people. Were they families? Were they newlyweds? Were they grandparents on the way to see grandchildren in Phoenix?

I know that it is easy to take ordinary days and just common events for granted. I know I assume that the events in my life will go on just as I’ve planned.

Yet the reality is that as days and weeks go by in uneventful order, our lives and the direction of our lives can be changed forever. A doctor’s report, a message from the police, a call in the middle of the night, a trip … then our structured and secure lives collapse around us.

As we passed by the wreckage on the Salt River Canyon highway, I realized again how uncertain our lives are. We have no assurance of tomorrow, the next hour or the next minute. The only assurance we have in this life is the assurance of knowing Jesus Christ as savior. We may not know what is ahead on the road of life, but it is enough to know the one that is all knowing.

Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at: