The Day My Mom Saved My Life and Managed Not to Kill Me Afterward
posted by: Lisa Vratny-Smith
When I was a little girl, my grandparents owned a guest ranch in the mountains outside of Creede, Colorado. It was called the S Lazy U Guest Ranch and it was one of my favorite places in the world.
I have countless memories of exploring and adventuring with my brother, cousins, and kids from the families who visited there. I also have a vivid memory of the day my mom saved my life and managed not to kill me afterward.
Note to reader: This is an unverified account of events, as I have never dared to bring it up again until now. We’ll see if she agrees with my recollection when she reads it. 🙂
My mom often helped my grandparents at the guest ranch by cleaning cabins between guests. One evening, I was enlisted to help her. I don’t recall my exact age, old enough to help and young enough to be very curious.
There was an old Willy’s jeep we used to get around the ranch – no roof, no seat belts, just a windshield. We had loaded up the jeep with the necessary supplies and were parked on a slight hill in front of the family cabin across the road from the lodge, which was surrounded by a log fence. Mom had started the jeep when she remembered something she needed to get from the lodge. She got out and left the jeep running with me in the passenger seat.
As I sat there I began to wonder about that long, interesting looking gearshift sticking up from the floorboard. I’d seen it used many times, but didn’t have a clue what it did. So, curious girl that I was, I began to wiggle it. I must have put it in neutral and, as it was sitting on an incline, the jeep began to roll…down the hill…toward the lodge and it’s big log fence.
I panicked and had no idea what to do. I’m sure I must have started screaming or calling for my mom, but I don’t recall exactly. What I do recall is seeing my mom come flying out from the screen door to the kitchen, leap into to moving jeep, and slam on the brakes just before we rammed the log fence.
Wow! I was amazed and terrified all at the same time.
My mom was terrified and livid.
I remember there was crying and hugging (probably a bit of yelling, too). I was, and still am, amazed at the super human speed and strength my mom found to catapult herself into the jeep before it crashed. I was also mortified that something that seemed so innocent had been so dangerous.
Once we stopped shaking, although I was probably still crying, we headed over to the cabin we were supposed to clean. I remember my mom scolding me as we made the beds together and me feeling extremely guilty and embarrassed. I was sure she’d kill me for nearly crashing the jeep and killing myself, but she didn’t. I don’t even recall if there was any punishment. I do know, I never messed around with a gearshift in a car again.
Thanks for saving my life, mom, and for not killing me for making you. Happy Mother’s Day!
(The picture is in front of the S Lazy U Ranch Lodge during the bicentennial 4th of July. That ragamuffin in the middle of the picture is me with my big brother and awesome cousins. Don’t you love our 70s style!)