Doug Tales 64: Cars and Angels, Part One

Doug Mendenhall loved to drive cars and trucks, which trait he inherited from his father who also had been a very experienced driver. Doug learned from his sighted daughter that he was not alone driving. In fact, one friend confided on a cross-country trip, “Doug, the only reason I let you drive is because I know you’re not doing the driving, your father is.” Doug talks about keeping his angel father busy with Doug’s driving in Possibilities: Lessons From the Spirit (2002), on pages 49-51:

One day I was driving with Denise down 1300 East by Cottonwood High School in Murray, Utah. I was following too close behind a truck. All of a sudden the truck turned into the left hand turn lane. I realized that the cars in front of the truck were stopped at a red light, and I was going too fast and would hit the one in front of me.

The next thing I knew, I had checked the rear view mirror, the right side mirror and my blind spot for cars, then whipped into the right hand turn lane, all in a split second, thereby avoiding the inevitable crash at the stop light.

“Wow,” Denise yelled, “that was cool.”

I was surprisingly calm as I said, “What was cool? My superior driving ability?” I was thinking I had done an incredible job of avoiding a sure accident.

“That wasn’t you Dad,” she said. “It was Grandpa!”

“What are you talking about?” I asked.

“Dad, Grandpa went in you and did that,” she responded.

“He did?” I questioned.

“Yep, and it was cool to see him do it,” she said.

I came to realize that the reason I got warm on my left shoulder when I drove a car was from my father coming to be with me. He was a truck driver for thirty years and then drove school bus after he retired from driving truck. He loved to drive, as do I. I soon learned to welcome him whenever I drove anywhere. If he wasn’t there, I would ask for him to come. This experience wasn’t the only time he helped me avoid a serious accident.

A little over a year later, Denise, three friends and I were leaving Henderson, Nevada after doing a book review meeting. I was behind the wheel as we were heading west on the freeway. I knew we needed to join up with I-15 and head north towards St. George. One friend was in the passenger seat and we were chatting. I guess I wasn’t paying close enough attention to my driving. We were traveling along at freeway speed doing 65 MPH. I saw the exit to L.A. and it was a nice slow winding one where you stayed at 65 MPH. I did not see our exit until we were right on it. The sign right in front of us read 25 MPH. I heard my friend say, “Oh no!” I said the same thing as we entered that sharp right hand turn going 65 MPH. We were all in another friend’s custom van which is very top heavy.

I don’t remember much of what happened next. I vaguely remember the brakes being applied and the wheel turning. The next thing I knew, we were entering the I-15 freeway at the top of the on-ramp. Denise and the others had been thrown to the floor, as no one had seat belts on. I was cracking up laughing, and one friend was yelling at me to stop laughing. I don’t know why I was laughing, maybe it was just the shock of an incredible experience.

There was no imaginable way that the van could NOT have turned over or flipped and rolled. Denise said it was “Grandpa” again. We all thanked him and thanked the Lord we were safe. I asked her if he had gone “in me” again. The response from Denise, “Duh, Dad.”

One friend then said, “Doug, the only reason I let you drive is because I know you’re not doing the driving, your father is.”

“Real funny,” I told him.

I remembered something I had read in my research about angels: “Undoubtedly angels often guard us from accidents and harm, from temptation and sin. They may properly be spoken of as guardian angels. Many people have borne testimony to the guidance and protection that they have received from sources beyond their natural vision. Without the help that we receive from the constant presence of the Holy Spirit, and from possible holy angels, the difficulties of life would be greatly multiplied.” (John A. Widtsoe, Improvement Era, April 1944, p. 225.)

I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father that allows those that we have known or possibly will know to “serve” us, watch out for us and protect us. My friend was right, it really wasn’t me driving that van, at least when it counted most.