Van with fickle starter leads to valuable lesson in divine intervention

It was a rough Monday. I knew it would be a crazy day. Anytime I have to make a trip into St. Cloud it generally is exhausting because my to-do list far exceeds my time allowance — but this one was exceptionally trying.

Luke needed to be at the orthodontist for his first appointment at 7:30 a.m. Miranda wanted to come along to do school shopping at Target. Two hurdles to overcome off the get-go: no Luke in the house and Miranda likes to sleep in.

My husband, Marv, coordinated the pickup of Luke, who had slept over the night before at his cousin’s house in Holdingford. Miraculously, Miranda was in the van before I started backing it out of the garage five minutes after I woke her up.

By Rita Meyer

True to form, I’m always racing against the clock. Even with the pit stop to pick up Luke in Avon, we were only five minutes late for his scheduled appointment time. Not bad.

Things went well at Target, Scheels and JCPenney after that, too. The kids got their needed school supplies plus a few new clothes and tennis shoes. By that time we were all starving, and Arby’s was the chosen venue for lunch based on the gift cards I had in my purse.

One slight problem. The van wouldn’t start. What to do?

I went back into Target. I told the associate at the service desk my predicament. She promptly called mall security. The “mall cop” met me with his jump box, a battery and jumper cables inside a small tote box. He tried jumping my dead battery. No luck.

Now what to do? The mall security officer gave me the phone number to a local company to call for a jump or a tow. I called — $48 to travel from their location to mine. I called my insurance company to see if I had roadside assistance. No such luck. Spend the $48 so the kids and I can get on with our day? I guess. So I called back the towing company. But, as I did, I tried turning the key one more time. It started! “Divine intervention!” I exclaimed to the kids.

By this time I was famished. Two cups of coffee since getting up at 5 a.m. only carries a person so far. Just for the record, I’m a firm believer in breakfast! On any given day, I fix myself a large mug of the old-fashioned kind of oatmeal and add fruit and granola. However, our microwave was on the fritz all weekend and Marv hadn’t gotten around to diagnosing, much less fixing, the problem. And I didn’t have time to make it on the stove top.

Blame my next move on not thinking straight because I was so hungry but I decided it would be nice for the kids and I to actually sit inside the restaurant versus using the drive-thru. I know, big mistake. Note to self: Always, always leave the car running so the battery can recharge!

Yep, same problem when we came out of Arby’s. Now what? I remembered that Justine was between her morning and afternoon swim practice at St. John’s and that she had jumper cables in her van. Save $48 and call Justine instead? I did. She came. We jumped, and jumped, and jumped my battery for at least 45 minutes. Nothing. Every time I turned the key, nothing happened. The engine wouldn’t turn over.

Now what? I decided we’d leave my dead van in the Arby’s parking lot until Marv could come figure out its problem and we’d all get into Justine’s van and proceed to Luke’s second ortho appointment of the day before heading for home. So we transferred all the purchases (can’t leave the five gallons of milk I bought at Target to spoil!) from my vehicle to hers.

Just for kicks, I tried turning the key one more time. Yep, you guessed it. Divine intervention again. The story does continue from here but for the sake of space issues, that’s enough about my Monday saga.

The really good thing about the day? Luke and Miranda now know what divine intervention means. I overheard Miranda ask Luke, “What’s Mom mean by divine intervention?” When I heard Luke reply, “I’m not sure” I promptly declared, “Jesus. Jesus is divine intervention.” Jesus was all over that day, doing what he does best — intervening.

Rita Meyer is married and the mother of four children. She and her family are members of St. John the Baptist Parish in Meire Grove. Email her at

The Visitor is the official newpaper for the Diocese of Saint Cloud.

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