Last week, I wrote of leaving a high-school basketball game one evening as heavy snow was arriving and how that my trip home in our farm pickup truck was delayed by my unwisely deciding to grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant.

At the column’s end, I was facing three challenges to overcome on my way home — the first being my making it up the hill to the Carthage city square. I backed up around a curve to attempt a running start, took a deep breath, a pressed the accelerator.

The momentum that I gained coming out of the curve sent my truck easily up the hill with tires spinning. As I passed the building on my right that once had housed the old Carthage Grocery and Locker Plant, I breathed a sign of relief. I eased on up to Main Street and stopped at the traffic light … one down, two to go.

I turned right and started down the center of town. The Cordell Hull Bridge loomed before me. I knew the bridge would be especially slick and treacherous. I made the turn on to the bridge with as much speed as I could safely gather. The truck fish-tailed its way to the highest point on the bridge. I relaxed and touched the break as I started down the other side. I touched the brake again. The truck slipped and slid easily as I brought it to a precarious stop at the end of the bridge … two down, one to go.

Now, I looked ahead to the biggest obstacle between me and home, the big hill that stood just east of Watervale (better known as Punch, Tennessee, to many) on Highway 70. As I paused on the end of the bridge, I considered two options. I could take the hill on straight up or turn off of Highway 70 on to the Old County House Road and avoid the hill altogether. Those thoughts weighed on my mind as I pulled off the end of the bridge and turned west.

The stretch of highway that ran below the bluff was as slick as I ever remember it.

I slipped and slid until I was out from under its dark shadow. I crossed the Hogan’s Creek Bridge and eased along at 40 miles per hour. I made it up the rise past the entrance to Old Highway 70 to the stretch of road that straightened out past Carthage General Hospital.

All the while, I was contemplating the hill and the Old County House Road. At the end of the straight stretch, I topped the rise in the road past the triangle where Jess Hackett lived. As I started down the other side, I strained my eyes to get a view of the big hill ahead.

In the distance on the dark hillside, I could see the taillights of stranded vehicles on both sides of the road. My decision was made. But it was made too late.

The entrance to the Old County House Road was right on me, and I was caught in the middle of making two mistakes. I was going too fast, and I had to make my turn too sharply.

As I went into the turn, I felt the back of the truck swinging around to my left. It slid faster. I was almost sideways when the strangest thing happened. Instead of sliding off the road where I would have obviously flipped and rolled down a steep embankment, the wooden livestock bed of the truck hit the stop sign on the edge of the road. When I say the stop sign, I do not mean the stop sign post. I mean the thin metal, octagonal shaped sign itself.

The sign acted like a spring and pitched the back of the truck back out in the middle of the road, correcting my course. I was on my way. I blinked in disbelief as I made the next curve and continued on the snow-covered gravel road. The rest of my trip was a piece of cake, although it took three tries to get up the hill to our house.

When I walked in the house, my mother met me at the door.

“Where have you been,” she asked.

The tone of her voice fell somewhere between concern and annoyance.

“At the ballgame,” I answered nonchalantly.

She responded, “At 11 o’clock at night?”

I answered, “Well, no ma’am. I went to Sherry’s Diner to get something to eat after the game.”

I didn’t like the way she looked at me.

Then she said, “The next time the game is over, and it’s snowing like this, you get yourself straight home. Do you understand me?”

I answered, “Yes, ma’am.”

She added, “You could end up in a ditch somewhere on a night like this.”

I could not have agreed more. But I did not end up in a ditch that night. I ended up in a soft bed with warm covers.

I have never believed in luck … but I have had my share of good fortune.

As I look back over my life, I have a great sense of comfort in knowing that Someone was watching over me.

Hartsville resident Jack McCall is an author and motivational speaker.

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