By Karen Jurgens
On a Saturday evening in December of 1954, my mother arrived at church for a Christmas party. Having parked her car on a busy street, she stood between two cars, waiting to cross. She never expected an oncoming vehicle, weaving unsteadily down the road, to plow into the back of her car. Since there was no time for her to jump away to the safety of the sidewalk, she fell to the ground, but not soon enough. Her right leg was pinned between the two huge bumpers.
After the drunk driver was arrested and she had been whisked off to a nearby hospital, only one object was left behind: a key ring with the keys to her car and house, along with a small duplicate of her car’s license plate number. They were never seen again.
A few months passed. My mother recuperated, thankful there had been no serious complications from her injury. Since my father had to sometimes work at night, she had to stay home alone—something she always dreaded.
One particular night after my father had left, she locked the downstairs doors and windows as usual. She tucked me in my crib in their bedroom and said goodnight to my fourteen-year-old brother, whose bedroom was across the hall. Soon everyone was asleep.
For no apparent reason, her eyes suddenly opened, like a window shade snapping up when its cord is yanked. Hoping it was almost morning, she turned over to look at the clock’s glowing hands. One o’clock. My father wouldn’t be home until dawn. She had to force herself back to sleep … but her mind kept wondering about what had awakened her, and fear began to flirt with her heart. Was it just being scared that caused her to shiver during this cold, spring night? Regardless, she decided to muster up some courage and fetch another quilt from the downstairs cedar closet.
She rose and hurried silently down the wood staircase. At the bottom of the stairs, an irrational fear of someone hiding behind a door grabbed her neck with icy fingers. Heart thumping, she turned on a hall light, scampered to the closet, pulled out a quilt, and ran back. Just as she was about to gallop up the steps, something stopped her. Should she double-check the front door? She decided to look one last time.
It was unlocked. Fear dug its nails into the rest of her rigid body. She secured the door with trembling fingers. Was someone hiding and watching her right now? She wasn’t going to stay downstairs another second. Her thoughts ran wild.
She forced her paralyzed legs to move and fled upstairs, but in her haste, she left the hall light burning. Back in the safety of her bed, she lay still and listened, hoping that she was just suffering from an overactive imagination. She hardly breathed as she tried to calm the irregular trotting of her heartbeat.
Then, in the stillness, she heard a distinct noise downstairs. This time she knew she was not imagining it. Fear tightened around her middle like a python. She slipped out of bed and tiptoed across the hall where my brother slept. She shook his shoulder and whispered, “Get up.”
Usually he would have groaned and told her to leave him alone, but this time he was silent and obedient. Before leading him across the hall, she whispered, “Get the gun.”
He chose one of the shotguns on his gun rack and followed her. She closed and locked the door by pushing in the button in the center of the knob. They both sat on the edge of her bed, facing the door.
“What’s wrong?” He asked her in a quiet voice.
She voice was shaky. “I heard a noise downstairs, and the front door was unlocked. I think there’s someone in the house.” Her back was straight and tense.
They sat and waited for several minutes. My brother questioned the whole situation since nothing was happening and said that he wanted to go back to bed.
Then they both heard a sound. Creak. It sounded like a heavy person coming up the stairs. Creak. Creak. They held their breath like a swimmer about to go underwater.
A few more moments and heavy footsteps sounded across the upstairs hallway, coming closer.
She grabbed my brother’s arm and squeezed hard. A shadow cast under the door. Bumblebees buzzed distantly in her ears, and she felt faint. Her eyes, like two moons, fastened on the door as the knob began to twist and turn.
My brother cocked the shotgun, shattering the silence with its deadly echo throughout the house. At the same time, he growled in his deepest adult voice, “I’m gonna kill you, you joker.”
He would have pulled the trigger, but my mother’s wisdom kept him from committing murder, even if that man did deserve it. She insisted he not shoot, although he begged her to let him do it. All she could think of in that split second were the repercussions he would carry the rest of his life, if he were to commit murder at such a young age.
But here God intervened. The sound of the cocked shotgun convinced the intruder. The next thing they heard were tumbling and crashing as he bounded down the stairs, two and three steps at a time, fumbling to unlock the front door, followed by a loud slam.
Did God protect our family? You bet. We will never know who that intruder was, or how he entered the house. Did he find the lost keys on the night of the accident? Only God knows. But we are convinced that it was His divine hand that kept all of us safe from a potential tragedy on that night.
“No weapon formed against you shall prosper And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord And their righteousness is from Me,” Says the Lord. Isaiah 54:17 (NKJV)
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A time when God protected me from danger was…