Charles Boothe mugshot

Charles Boothe

We all have disturbing moments in life we never forget and we can still relive them as if they just happened.

Most of us also have experiences that defy explanation of how it unfolded the way it did, and they continue to mystify us.

An incident I experienced has both elements: a near tragedy with a profound impact and the avoidance of the tragedy that was surreal.

My oldest son was 4 years old and we were living in South Carolina at the time. We were visiting my mother and other relatives and friends in this area on that summer day.

On a trip to Pigeon Creek, we stopped by to see a friend of the family, Harvey “Dood” Brown, who lived in a trailer snuggled on a sliver of a piece of land between the road and the creek.

Across the narrow road from Dood’s trailer was just enough space to squeeze in a car or two for parking.

We sat on the porch for awhile and chatted as my son played around the trailer, having a great time throwing rocks into the creek.

Plenty of laughs with Dood as usual, a railroad man who, he always claimed, was born with a “veil over his face,” which is supposed to mean he has the gift of visions.

Well, he had a bunch, all of them interesting. Maybe true, I was never sure.

At any rate, we said our goodbyes, making our way down the walkway toward the narrow road to cross to get to our car.

My son was a little late joining us and saw us near the edge of the road and decided to run at full speed to the car. As he did, I instinctively looked to make sure the coast was clear and three realizations happened simultaneously.

As I looked, my son was already at the edge of the road, out of my reach, and I suddenly saw a truck barreling to where we were. I had not even heard it and my son was ready to run in front of it.

In a split second, I was completely overcome with shock and desperation and helplessness, all rippling through my body, tearing it apart. It seemed as if that tiny amount of time was frozen and I was disintegrating.

And in that instant something unexplainable happened.

As as he got to the edge of the road, he suddenly stopped, looking up at me terrified. Just as he did, the truck passed in front of us, zipping by. All in the blink of an eye.

If he had not stopped that suddenly, he would have run out directly in front of that truck.

I have no idea why he stopped because none of us saw or heard the truck and he was actually looking at me when he stopped, with an expression of terror that is forever etched deep within my being.

But somehow he knew to stop, and even stranger, he realized how close he had come to probably being killed. Just in an instant.

So did I.

And for the first time in my life my knees buckled and I had to sit on the porch. I could not walk.

It remains the most traumatic thing I have ever experienced.

I could simply not shake it off, just how close he came to getting killed, not having any idea why he stopped, but so thankful he did.

It took some time for me to get back on my feet and walk, and even then I was unsteady.

Of course, as all parents know, or should know, our children impact our emotions far beyond anything we can imagine.

Even today I shudder when I think about that incident.

I often think about the power of the mind and spirit and how they can transport us to an inner peace if we work on it and allow it to happen.

Or just the opposite if we can’t control our emotions and inclinations, and end up living in constant inner turmoil.

I have to look at myself in the mirror often and make sure I am living in reality.

If he didn’t stop when he did, it may have been too much to bear and that inner turmoil could have transported me into a straight-jacket.

Is this life I am living real, or am I strapped in a straight-jacket somewhere having no clue about reality?

Silly thought, I know.

But that is just how powerful love is, and the potential loss of it.

So hug your babies tight.

Charles Boothe is a reporter for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph and can be reached at

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