by Bonnie Kirby
In late May of 1969 my heart was full of the joy of life. God had given me a fresh start in life and a loving new husband to share it with. We have been together now for over thirty-five years.
We were married on the 31st of May, 1969, and set off for a honeymoon trip to Shenandoah National Park in the mountains of Virginia. I have always had a warm feeling for that area, perhaps because that is where my Dad’s ancestors came from. My new husband, George, was in the Navy and his team was set to leave the country the following week, so our honeymoon was limited to just three days. We planned to make that three wonderful days together as husband and wife. Then fate stepped in and things didn’t quite go as we planned.
We were late leaving our wedding reception and didn’t arrive at Shenandoah National Park until well past dark. A heavy fog had moved in that made the forty-two mile drive over twisting, winding mountain roads even more treacherous. The fog was so thick we almost missed the entrance to our hotel, but finally arrived safely.
The next morning was damp and chilly, but we were newlyweds; we had all the love we needed to keep us warm. George was starting to develop symptoms of a head cold, but did his best to hide it from me. He really wanted me to enjoy our time together. That afternoon, God smiled on us and brought the sun out to warm the crisp mountain air. We went hiking in the forest and stopped about every fifty feet or so to hug and kiss. Well, maybe it wasn’t that often, but we just couldn’t seem to get enough of being together.
A group of hikers we met on the trail told us of a nice steak restaurant down in the valley. George loves a good steak so when we finished our hike we jumped into the old Chevy drove down to the valley for an early dinner. The restaurant was quaint and relaxing and the steak was fabulous. Around five o’clock we started the drive back to the mountains in hopes of catching a sunset together. I had never taken the time to stop and watch a sunset before. George says, “Only God can make something that stunningly beautiful, and make it different every time”!
We paid our toll at the entrance to Skyline Drive and started the long drive up the winding mountain road to the overlook where we planned to view the sunset together. We were about half way to the overlook when the old Chevy suddenly started spitting, sputtering and jumping like a wild bronco. It got so bad we knew we couldn’t make it much farther. The nearest service area was twenty miles away and this was before the advent of cell phones. We were in trouble.
George pulled off onto the gravel on the side of the road as soon as he found a safe place to stop and turned the motor off. He got out, propped the hood of the car up and tried to figure out what the problem was. He knew a little about auto repairs, but just couldn’t figure out what was wrong. He was so frustrated, thinking that this was going to ruin our honeymoon that he was on the verge of losing his temper.
He was about to pop an artery and I was close to tears when, suddenly we heard the putt-putt-putt of an old engine behind us. We looked back and saw what appeared to be a 1930-something pickup truck chugging up the road behind us. Driving the truck was an old man wearing a beat-up old felt hat. As he drew closer he waved to us, slowed down and pulled off the road in front of us. Out stepped the text book picture of a hard working, family loving, God fearing Shenandoah Valley farmer. He was a big man in bib overalls with a kindly smile on his weather-worn face that seemed to glow with warmth and kindness. He walked up to the car and quietly asked if he could be of any help to us.
George and the Old Farmer stuck their heads under the hood of the car and conversed on what might be wrong with the engine. Actually, George had absolutely no idea what was wrong with the car so he did more listening then talking. Old Farmer reached under the hood, fiddled with a few things and then told George to get back in the car and try starting it up. He turned the ignition key, the engine roared to life and shook worse then it did before. George quickly turned it off.
Old Farmer said, “Let me try something here. Okay, son, give her a try”.
George turned the key, the engine started up and was running smoother then it had in a long time! We couldn’t believe it! Old Farmer popped his head around the side of the hood and said, “The timing was out of whack, son. I tweaked the distributor around a bit to fix it. You’ll have to tighten this here bolt to keep it in place, as soon as you get a chance”. Then he disappeared back behind the raised car hood.
We looked at each other and smiled from ear-to-ear, knowing that our honeymoon could now continue. George couldn’t wait to thank the kindly Old Farmer. He jumped out of the car and ran around front. A minute or so later, George came walking around to my side of the car with a lost and confused look on his face.
“Honey”, I said, “What’s wrong? You look like you’ve seen a ghost or something”.
As our eyes met, he said, “I’m not so sure that I didn’t”.
It hadn’t taken George more then thirty seconds to get out of the car to thank the Old Farmer for his kindness, but in that brief span of time he had vanished along with his rickety old truck. In the twinkling of an eye, the man who had saved our honeymoon was gone. But, how could that be? Our car was running quietly now so we should have heard that old pickup truck fire to life and crunch the gravel on the roadside as he drove away. We neither heard nor saw anything to indicate he had left.
Later that evening, as we sat watching the sunset from the mountain overlook, George couldn’t stop thinking about the Old Farmer. The road we broke down on was a “TOLL” road. You have to pay to use Skyline Drive. The Drive runs through Shenandoah National Park and there are no farms on the mountains. Why would a kindly Old Farmer, in an antique pickup truck, spend his hard earned money to drive a twisting, winding road through the mountains surrounded by nothing but National Park land? Wouldn’t he be more inclined to use the public roads in the valley, where all the farms are actually located, to get to wherever he was going? There was absolutely no reason for that Old Farmer to be on that mountain! Or was there? My guess is that only God knows for sure.
George and I have talked about that event in our lives many times over the past 35 years, and it still leaves us speechless. We can come to only one real conclusion. We needed a small miracle to salvage our honeymoon and God sent it to us in the form of a kindly Old Farmer. Was the answer to our dilemma a real, flesh and blood man or was he one of God’s many Angels here on earth? There are those who chalk this off as nothing more then mere coincidence, believing the Old Farmer just happened to be there. All we know is that he seemed to come out of nowhere; performed a small miracle for us; then vanished into thin air in a matter of seconds.
You can believe whatever you want to believe, but my husband and I will always know him as “The Angel That Saved Our Honeymoon”.