18. More fun and funerals
Almost on a daily basis I experienced little miracles which encouraged me greatly. Nobody knew about these and I had stopped telling my family a long time ago. One morning my bible reading was Psalm 37, a wonderful piece of literature. Right at the end it speaks of an evil (Verse 35) and the promise of security that the righteous can count on by trusting God:
And the Lord shall help them and deliver them.
He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them,
because they trust in HIM. (Psalm 37, 40)
Later in the day I answered the door to two ladies from the Jehovah’s Witnesses. During our brief talk one of the visitors quoted a scripture from the same Psalm. I told her: “What co-incidence, I only read this passage this morning”.
Later that evening I read some of my own writing online. I just picked a chapter of “More in number’ and read what I had written. I still do this and to my amazement I discover details I had either forgotten or I establish new links that cast new light on what wonders took place. That night I opened chapter 42 of ‘More in number than the sand’. Right at the end I found reference again to Psalm 37. God is so good.
Frequently I happen to wake at any hour of the night. It almost was as if God was winking at me with his eye, as I would read the display on the clock radio – 12.03, 1.53 or 3.01 etc.
My mind discovered more and more information made no sense. It begged for an explanation when things didn’t add up. In another Christian newsletter I had read about the death of a 61 year old man, the head of a Bible College in New Zealand. The fact that his passing was featured in this Australian Newsletter at all, plus his photo in black and white, plus the lack of other details (wife, children, and connections to Australia etc.) raised my suspicion level. I researched the bible college website. I could not find a reference to the man or his death. I emailed the college to confirm the death, which they did. Was I wrong? So be it – I felt I had done my duty. (See email below).
Amongst the many phenomena in South Australia’s road crashes in 2003, one fact stood out. One spot, which did not look particularly accident prone, had two fatalities in separate road crashes. At the time of the second incident, Aug, 10th (see chapter 8) I had pondered the name of the pedestrian that had been killed and his age, but I dismissed my lingering doubts. Yet, both the Christian name and surname of the pedestrian run down, fitted into my word-game picture. He was reported as a 35 years old jogger; I thought, how unusual to get run over by a car at that age?!
But I had seen with my own eyes the News reports on TV. I had read the printed articles in the newspaper about the fatality. I visited the scene later on the day it happened; the yellow road markings were clearly visible. Isobel was with me at the time; we drove by on the way home from church. Who can blame her for questioning my sanity?
The final piece of evidence that didn’t fit into the picture was the road works on Days Road in October. Less than 3 months after the hit/run crash the road was resurfaced. This observation plus above death of the bible college principle made me sent the following email on 3/11/03 to Transport SA, a Government Department:
On Sunday August 10th 03, early in the morning, a male 35 year old pedestrian was hit by a vehicle and killed. It was reported the crash occurred on the corner of Days Rd near Regency Rd. The driver did not stop. Another tragic hit and run occurred in Tanunda a week later, Anthony Scarvelis (probably 2 LL's) from Richmond died.
I have two questions:
One, if the person was jogging (I heard of a 61 year-old in NZ died on 6/10 while out jogging) and died of a heart attack, is this still counted as a road fatality, if a vehicle hits him later?
Two, how long do the yellow road markings need to stay on the crash scene, if a crash is a crime, e.g. hit/run.
The reason I am asking is an article in the Newspaper (Sunday Mail) about crash investigations. The road surface at the scene of the Aug 10th tragedy has already been resealed, less than 3 months later. If there are court proceedings later, what evidence is left?
Dieter Rolf Fischer
With doubts about the accuracy of crashes reverberating in my mind I listened to a Radio News broadcast on Monday morning, December 1st 03. A soon as I heard the exact address mentioned I sensed something was amiss. If anyone would ask me to describe this intuition, I can only say that I simply listened to the radio and then to my self-talk. Over recent years I had changed from a negative attitude, with limiting, restricting surface thinking to positive, ‘God is able above all we can ask or think’ God-affirmation.
The radio announcer reported the death of a motor-cyclist, killed on Wright Road after colliding with a motor car. The crash had occurred around 9.30 pm the night before. On my way home later in the day around midday, I made a point of visiting the crash scene. To my surprise a cross had already been placed to mark the spot where the 38 year old man, Alan Kevin Watson, had died.
(Only a few weeks later I would be emailing this piece of information to an ABC Radio program to contribute to the theme – road side shrines for crash victims).
Since the crash happened only late the night before, whoever placed the cross hadn’t wasted time. Perhaps they were in a hurry, because the date had been written as 31/11/03. The word allways (will always be remembered) was misspelled, placing my already niggling mind on even higher alert.
There were such a large number of abnormalities and data it had me puzzled for days. And the co-incidental street names parade had started on the Sunday morning, hours before the crash. After church I volunteered to drop leaflets into letterboxes around the district to invite people to our Christmas outdoor service. I was to pick a street off the map, which one I wanted to cover. When I hesitated the lady said: “What about Watson Avenue?”
On Monday evening I was listening to the TV News about the crash. I thought I heard the reporter mention the age of the killed cyclist as 38 years old. At my lunchtime visit I had read ‘born 6/12/85’ on the small wooden cross. I rang the TV station and claimed the cyclist was 18 years old. The lady said, they only report what the police give them.
A later report on another TV station claimed that the cyclist had been thrown 80 meters. This fact and the age of the victim (perhaps I had misread the date of birth on the cross?) made me decide to drive the short distance to the crash site at once. This time I noticed the name of the nearest side road – Vinall Street. In the other direction close by was Monty Street, which could read: ‘why man cross?’
To my surprise a few people were there already. They stood in a small group talking. I approached one man who identified himself as Alan’s brother. I found out Alan had two children 3 and 5 years old. His wife’s name was Natalie. Nobody seemed terribly upset, unless this was just my pre-programmed mind that perceived it.
One young man came over and said that he saw the victim laying there, pointing to a tubular, metal fence. It didn’t show any damage. One lady said that there was some blood on the grass. We walked over; she couldn’t locate it and I didn’t press the point.
There were still pieces of the crashed motorcycle strewn all over. (At lunch time I had already sneaked one quietly for my collection of mementos). I measured the distance to between the impact marked in yellow and the metal fence. It was 27 large steps; nowhere near 80 meters. How can a TV News crew be that far wrong?
A neighbour and I discussed the possibility of a suicide, not uncommon in the stressful period leading up to Christmas. But the skid marks on the road did not testify to that. There was one long, single skid mark onto the wrong side of the road. A person committing suicide does not brake sharply. What puzzled me was the absence of skid marks by the motor car. The angle and direction it hit the cyclist seemed very steep.
I pictured the accident and said to a neighbour: “
If a light comes towards me, drifting into my path, the first natural reaction is to brake and secondly, to steer away from the obstacle.” The yellow road markings indicated that the vehicle that collided with Watson swerved right into him. No tyre marks are visible to indicate sharp braking.
I trust that crash investigators will ask these same questions.
One question they will not ask; why God are the ages of Alan’s children three and five years? Another, why God are the names of the surrounding streets so incredible, as if you’re pulling my leg?
I had nearly forgotten my main reason for driving the four or five kilometres on this mild summer evening. The cross, I had found out, was erected by his brother. Looking closer, the date read ‘1965’ as the year of the cyclist’s birth. (I rang the TV station immediately I arrived home to apologize for my earlier, incorrect information).
When I pointed out to Alan’s brother the mistake about the date (there is no 31/11), he pulled out a pen and corrected the number immediately. Now I realized, how quickly the whole cross must have been completed.
Due to the mysterious circumstances I decided to break my rule of not attending any more strangers’ funerals. This case had me intrigued, because the funeral notice included the statement: “The body can be viewed between 1.15 and 1.45 pm” (or similar). I have since studied many funeral notices and not seen one such announcement. Unfortunately, my schedule only allowed me to arrive for the 2 pm start of the actual funeral service. (A dead body would not have meant anything anyway, because I did not know what Alan looked like).
Two things I observed as out of the ordinary at the funeral: One, the lady officiating gave the victim’s year of birth as 1964, one year difference. Secondly, I was surprised right at the end, and left at that point, when the song: ‘Always look on the bright side of life’ was played as benediction, if you can call it that.
During the eulogy I noted an interesting name - that of the deceased’s recent employer. (Later I could not find it in the phone book). I could transform the name easily to read: “Re: Leave, Shut [the] crosses.” More brain cells rescued from premature aging.
Those who think, I had again crossed the ‘sound’ barrier, read on, because it got worse (or better), whichever you prefer. My attempts to investigate Alan’s date of birth etc. at the relevant Government Department’s website, and enquiring by phone, proved futile. The government officer said, I must produce a good reason to want to know, if an Alan Kevin Watson was registered as born on 6.12.65 (or 64) and died on 30/11/03. Even if I had been supplied with the information, I was not prepared to spend money; there would have been a sizeable fee payable.
The telephone book was not very useful either, the surname too common. Then I remembered the Electoral Roll. I was glad for that touch of inspiration, because I found a gem at the State Library in Adelaide: A series of red books, which included Australian citizens; all the names and addresses of people eligible to vote. In my search for truth I did not find an Alan Kevin Watson, but just an Alan Watson.
If this was the Alan I was searching for, why did his brother include Alan’s middle name on that roadside cross, when the man himself did not bother to list it in the Governments official electoral roll? Another why question begging, which I seemed to be programmed to ask.
I wrote down the addresses of an Alan Watson and those of 2 other Watson’s in the district. May be I would trace extended family members and ask about Alan? My first try to find Natalie, Alan Watson’s de-facto widow, if there is such an expression, was successful. A man answered the door. Could be her brother, I thought, but I did not ask. Two small children came running to the door shouting with lively voices: “Alan is dead, Alan is dead”. How did they know what I had come for? I could not detect any sign of sorrow or sadness, neither in the children nor the bereaved mother.
I explained that I was interested in road safety and ask her, if she knew why her late husband collided with the car. She was very matter-of-fact-friendly and did not show any sign of being irritated by my visit. (Isobel would be much more so, if she knew I was showing interest and knocked on the door of a young widow). I realized, despite my strange feeling about the case that I could not prove anything, if this was what I was trying to do. I thanked the lady and left.
As I walked to my parked car a street sign leapt onto my brain: Uno Cr. (It was not the address I had been to, but very close by). Should I have read it as ‘One’ in Italian or played with its pronunciation: you know?
On Tuesday 16th December, during a driving lesson, out of the blue came a thought about the second Watson address on my list. (I had not actively pursued the matter for a number of days). As I pondered the street name, something seemed to alert me that I was not far away. A moment later, how spooky, I saw the name of the street in question F… Crescent. (For privacy I will not name specific addresses).
Without telling her why I directed my client to ‘practice’ parking at the kerb outside the house listed. I had no intention of doing anything, except have a look. Right at that moment, I was astounded to see him, a driver looking long and hard at me, as he passed in his tradesman’s van. It was too much of a co-incident, because this man was a close neighbour of ours. We met at least five kilometres from home right where I had been led to.
Out of curiosity I wanted to see what would happen on visiting the third Watson residence. After the eventful driving lesson I drove for about 10 minutes to the address, not far from Natalie Watson’s house. I parked and left my business card in the letterbox to simply make the point, I was there. Again a street sign caught my eye. I marvelled as I saw - GILES PL.
In chapter 12 earlier I explained that reading Giles backwards as ‘selig’ means “saved” in German. The PL (abbreviation for Place) also fitted right into the puzzle, which was becoming clearer with every miracle uncovered.
God proved to me that HE leads me, even when I don’t understand HIS ways. Obedience is the key, seeking HIS will. Why the motorcycle crash took so much of my attention, I don’t know. My suspicion remained; it was even re-kindled when, by pure co-incidence, I met a pastor, who happened to pass the site of the crash just after it had happened. His statements confused me even further, but confirmed my doubts that something was amiss.
With my limited resources there is only so much that I can investigate. If wrong was done, by whom and for what reason, must be investigated. God sees into every situation. HE will bring “righteousness and justice to all who are oppressed”. (Psalm 103, Verse 6). His truth will be revealed and prevail.
As I am typing I am looking at a picture frame, without a picture but a bible verse instead. How I came to possess it is just one of those many, peculiar incidences. I knew God’s hand played a role along the way.
My friend Dave and I visited an ‘Open Garden’ outside Adelaide. Dave is the one who travelled with me to the York Peninsula a few months earlier (chapter 12). A private owner opened his garden for public enjoyment for a day, raising funds for various causes, at the same time. When I heard the advertisement on ABC Radio and the address Walker Ct, I knew I’d be there on that Sunday, December 14th 03. Perhaps Isobel sensed my true motive and stayed home for this reason. I had thought she would jump at the chance, to visit a nice garden on a fine Sunday afternoon.
Later I realized, if Isobel instead of Dave had come with me, I would have missed out on the framed scripture. Dave lived not far from the Animal Welfare shop that played such a dramatic role in chapter 6. After our open garden visit Dave wanted to buy his dinner at the take-away shop only 2 shops away.
As Dave was buying his food, I walked the few metres over to the Animal Welfare second-hand store. The memories from 3 months earlier were still fresh in my mind. I knew the record-set “He holds the whole world in His hand” had been waiting there, just for me to buy.
As I looked in the window I saw the picture frame with the scripture verse. I knew it will be waiting for me to purchase when the shop is open:
“Therefore being justified by faith,
we have peace with God through our
Lord Jesus Christ.”