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BATIK ART BY JONATHAN S. EVANS
Confessions of an Itinerant Batik Artist

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8. CRASH


BACK IN AMERICA
By early Spring that year, my own mental malaise had returned in spite of my hard work and efforts to stir up some local action and sense of community purpose. I had painted quite a collection of new batiks but wasn't sure why I was doing it anymore. I felt that I had lost or forgotten my purpose and direction. Catherine was deeply involved in her work with children and although she had some deep reservations about her work, she was obviously learning a tremendous amount. I felt that I had run out of challenges and had reached another dead end. I couldn't see beyond the cul de sac that life in rural West Virginia had become for me.


April 8th was a date I'll never forget. Our world turned upside down suddenly and my life would never be the same again. Catherine and I had spent a quiet weekend with her parents in Bath County and were driving back home on a Sunday morning. She had some vacation days due and we had decided to drive down to Miami. We planned to stay with Kay for a week and were going to leave in two days. Catherine was driving the Subaru across the bridge on the outskirts of the village of Huntersville when a large Chevrolet hit us head-on at high speed. Entering the main road from a Y junction to our right, the driver had run through the Stop sign. Catherine was prevented from seeing him coming by the sides of the bridge which also gave her no space to turn out of the way of the oncoming car. Two cars hitting each other at fifty miles an hour come together with tremendous force and I was knocked out for a minute or two. I have a vague image of the crash in my memory banks, an image of the car suddenly being right there in front of us and of a painless impact. Catherine and I were both wearing seat belts or we would probably have been killed. As it was, Catherine broke her nose on the steering wheel and suffered severe whiplash in her back. Where the seat belt crossed my body diagonally, I broke my right shoulder bone, cracked my sternum and broke a rib. Worst of all, I had apparently put my left hand up on the dashboard in front to brace myself and my left wrist was badly shattered. White bone jutted out vertically through the torn skin.


We learned later that the passenger in the front seat of the other car, the father of the driver, had died in the accident. He had not been wearing a seat belt. Totally disorientated and in deep shock, sitting squashed in our car which had somehow been pushed in like a concertina against my knees, I remember mumbling to Catherine that probably we wouldn't be able to go to Florida. A crowd swiftly gathered around us, the police and an ambulance were called and soon arrived on the scene. Catherine, who was in better shape than I, managed to ask an onlooker to call her parents and our neighbour Phil. I had to let go of the situation completely and to trust that all was being done that could be done. They had to take the car door off on my side to get me out of the car. I was eventually loaded into an ambulance and whisked off to Marlinton Hospital for examination. My beloved leather jacket was cut off me, to my chagrin, as was my favourite shirt. Phil showed up promptly and the local doctor determined that I needed more help than they would be able to give me in Marlinton. My memories are bit vague at this point but I remember getting a shot of something to kill the pain that I still hadn't begun to feel. I remember fading in and out of a long bumpy ride in the ambulance up to Charlottesville where I was quickly admitted to UVA Hospital. As I was wheeled around for tests and examination, I caught a glimpse of a bloody Catherine in an adjoining room, which was very comforting. I also saw Mary and Dick who had come to the rescue immediately. As I was examined by a young doctor who attempted to put my broken wrist bones back together, Mary came and held my hand and I realized from her reaction that I was in pretty bad shape. I was on painkillers in hospital for five or six days but the time passed in a complete daze. My wrist was operated on and set in a cast. I remember that I had a lot of visitors but still hadn't really begun to assimilate what had happened or what it would mean to us. Later I saw that the accident would shake us out of our West Virginia rut and affect our lives for a long time to come.

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