Worn out but determined, Harold then headed back down the deep gully for the husband. In short order, the couple and their little girl were under a doctor's care in the next town over, then whisked away to a hospital more than fifty miles away. A brief goodbye fading with sound of the siren.
Within days, Harold went on to Camp Livingston in Alexandria, La., where he served with Company D under General George S. Patton. Fortuitously and unexpectedly, he stayed stateside the remainder of World War II as a cook for the maneuver training camps, one in the Louisiana "piney woods" that mimicked the lush forests of Germany.
Throughout the war years and since, he has had many a story to tell: Like how he met his future wife at a little church two blocks from the Alexandria USO; love at first sight and his bride at war's end for a 74-year marriage. Or how he felt God's call to serve as a pastor and the way prayers were answered, sometimes in miraculous ways.
In his later years, Harold has wondered many a time what happened to that baby girl he rescued roadside. Then, just a couple of years ago outside the Cracker Barrel restaurant near Brookfield, Fla., the town he lived at the time, that recollection came full circle.
"It was just pouring down rain and I was standing there waiting on a friend who was going to meet me there," Harold said, reminding how the big porch with rockers is a good place to wait. "This lady came out, her and her husband, and it was pouring down rain and they said, 'Oh, it's raining and we need to get on the road!'
In typical Harold style, he took action and offered his umbrella. Now protected from the deluge, her husband could get to their pickup-fifth wheel rig out back, and then drive up in front of the porch.
While Harold and the woman stood under the overhang, their conversation turned to where the couple would be heading. Her answer was Missouri and then she added, "Ava," the same place this veteran had grown up.
"And she said, 'Yes, I was born there,' " Harold said, retelling with excitement what happened when he told her his name. "Oh, she almost went into orbit! She said, 'My daddy and mother have told me the story about when they had a wreck and I fell out of the car, and I was on the road and you picked me up!"
After more than seven decades, Harold was at the right place at the right time ... God's perfect timing once again.
It seems some answers may come this side of heaven when we serve another with kindness. Something as simple as offering an umbrella to a stranger.
Lucy note: Rev. Harold Buchanan's story idea came from retired Registered Nurse Lorna Runge when their paths crossed in Kennewick. He serves as district superintendent for the Bible Missionary Church in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ontario, Canada.
(Lucy Luginbill is a career television producer-host and the Spiritual Life editor for the Tri-City Herald. In her column, she reflects on the meaning of her name, "Light Bringer." If you have a story idea for Light Notes, contact her at email@example.com.)
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