Alexandra P.: Memoir

Alexandra Popescu

Mr. Jockers

Period 5 ILA

February 10, 2017

Car Crash Conundrum


Have you ever heard of people speaking the phrase, “I saw my life flash before my eyes” and ever wonder if that actually ever happened or if they just wanted to emphasize that moment to make it seem way more dramatic than it really was?  Turns out, those moments actually exist.


“Can we go to Starbucks Grandma?” I asked, already knowing the answer.

“Of course, anything for my angel,” she said as she turned around and gave me her signature smile.  There was yet a time to come when my grandmother would deny one of my requests.  (I even managed to convince her to get me a four story dollhouse that I played with twice.)  She turned back around as the red light in front of us flashed back to green.

We were on Route 58, right by the HiHo Motel.  This rundown building had always made me skeptical about how people would want to stay there.  The tall concrete structure with the occasional missing brick and broken down cars in the lot was my idea of a sketchy place.

My eyes wandered to the cars around us.  Sitting in the back seat of our minivan, I had to sit up as straight as I could to see just over the edge of the window.  There were only a few cars out at this hour, since  most people were still having breakfast.  As I turned to look out the back window, I caught sight of a monstrous-looking black Ford truck, the kind that makes you vibrate in your seat because the engine is so loud.

The man in the front seat suddenly began pounding his horn angrily, the truck emitting a horridly loud sound.

“Grandma, why is he bee…” I didn’t get to finish my question as I was thrown to the side in a severe swerve.  I grabbed ahold of the armrests by my side, my now clammy hands slid down them, despite my efforts to hold on.  Looking out the front windshield, I realised what was happening.  Bright headlights illuminated our car as we sped over the double yellow lines.

My grandmother’s figure was sitting motionless at the wheel.  The blasting horns were suddenly filling my ears as cars all around were honking uselessly.  The sound was enveloping me, as well as those futile thoughts you get when you think you’re going to die.  Ok, maybe not, but it wasn’t going to end well.

In those few seconds, all I could see was the approaching telephone poll that was directly in front of our car.  But what was worse was not having anything being done about it; not by me nor my grandmother.

The impact of the car hitting the telephone poll was not one that I expected.  No amount of “bracing yourself” can actually prepare you for those moments.

As the car rammed into the wooden structure, my body flew far forward, and the seat belt failed to do its job by fastening itself tight.  (It’s like those times when you lean too far forward and your seat belt locks tight, not allowing you to move.)  Well of course that didn’t happen now, when I needed it.

My head was flung into the headrest of the seat in front of me. The sound of tires screeching and skidding across concrete filled my ears as desperate people slammed their brakes in an effort to avoid our car, the smoke already rising from the destroyed engine, the hood crumpled up like a piece of paper.

As soon as I came to the conclusion that I could still move, (a quick wiggle of my fingers confirmed that), I took off my seatbelt and leaned forward, in between the two front seats.  My grandmother was sitting there with an expression of pure confusion on her face.  As soon as she saw me she grabbed my face and pulled me to her until I was safe in her arms.

“Are you hurt?  I just don’t understand what happened!  Honey, I’m so sorry.”  Tears streaked her face as she kissed the top of my head.  At that moment, I was so happy that she was fine that I didn’t even take into account the pain that was beginning to sear through my head.  If my grandmother was ok, then nothing else mattered; I knew that it was going to turn out alright, even though the car was probably not going to be in its finest shape.

After a long moment of staying there together, just the two of us, my grandmother reached for the door to test and see if it would open.  With a slight shove, the door swung open hanging on by only one hinge that looked like it was going to break at any moment from the heavy weight of the door.

A woman from the house that that we were situated in front of came running to help us, her husband right on her heels.  She grabbed my grandmother’s hand and began to talk to her, asking her the standard questions, although her face showed a look of genuine concern.

Once my grandmother was out of the car, I sat in the front seat knowing that the sliding side doors in the back had no chance of opening themselves.

I surveyed the sight in front of me; the wood of the pole was split in half with the top part hanging down at a ninety degree angle.  The wires that used to hang at the top were now draped carelessly across the top of our car and this family’s front yard.  Probably not the sight they wanted to see looking out their window.  

The woman’s husband came to offer me his hand to help me down from the front.  I didn’t need it, but I took it anyways because it was a nice gesture.

Sirens could already be heard in the distance but more importantly, I wanted to get a look around to make sure no other car had been involved in an accident.

As I stepped out of the car and towards the spot to where my grandmother was standing with the woman, thankfully I noticed that there were just a few cars stopped on the side of the driveway, all of which were perfectly intact. They were just people inquiring to make sure that we were all right. Except for the new skid marks that the pavement had received, it looked like no one else was hurt.

I felt incredibly relieved to see this, considering that we had crossed the wrong side of the road for quite a few seconds.  Had another car been coming from the opposite direction, it would not have turned out this well. Besides a destroyed car, the two of us were mostly unharmed, and that’s what really mattered.

I walked over to my grandmother and stayed in her embrace as we waited for the first responders to reach the scene.  The sirens were heard clearly as the police and firemen neared the house.

All of a sudden, a silver car came streaking into the mess of a driveway, the door swinging open almost as fast as the car had come to an abrupt stop.  My mother nearly collapsed out of the car as she ran towards me and enveloped me in her arms.  She planted a big kiss on my cheek and held onto me until I felt like all the air had gone from my lungs.  Her tear stained face was scrunched up in worry but I assured her that I was fine.

“Really mom, I didn’t get hurt.  I would worry more about Grandma.”  After inspecting the lump on my forehead and hearing a few more reassuring statements, she made her way to my grandmother, who clearly looked distraught sitting in the plastic beach chair that the woman must have brought out for her.

“Oh my God, Mother what happened?” she said as she gave my grandmother a hug.  They talked over the event and even though my grandmother still seemed confused after their conversation, it appeared that my mom had come to a conclusion.

The emergency team had finally reached the scene.  Some of the firefighters were busying themselves inspecting the telephone pole and wires, while the policemen began sectioning off areas with the flashy yellow caution tape and directing traffic.

I headed over to my mom, who was already deep in conversation with the paramedic.  I began paying attention to what they were saying as soon as I heard the word “stroke”.  From there I only understood bits of the conversation but enough to piece together what had happened.

Apparently, from my mother and the paramedic’s theories, my grandmother had suffered from a mini stroke that had temporarily paralyzed all of her basic functions.  That is what had led to the blanking when she was behind the wheel and had caused her to lose control over the car.  

I interrupted their talk and grabbed my mother by the hand fiercely and walked her over to where my grandma was sitting.  As such a small person, I do not know how I did it, but somehow I managed to embrace them both at the same time.  They both reluctantly held on to each other, and the tension that had seemed to be before, vanished.  In that short time, I think we  just valued the fact that we were all still there, breathing and unharmed.

“I love you guys,” I said with a genuine smile on my face, and despite the irony, it felt like one of the happiest moments of my life.


You never know when your life will change.  In just a fraction of a second, something can happen that might never leave you the same.  In moments like this, it is then that you realize all that you have. And of course ungratefulness is something that can’t be helped, but at that moment, all I knew was that I was one lucky person to have these people in my life.


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