by Susan Letourneau
In 1984, I participated in a golf tournament in a small town 50 miles from my Alberta home. When the time came to drive home, it was evening and dark clouds were forming on the horizon.
Five miles into my journey I was enveloped in a deluge of rain. Visibility fast diminished as the rain increased and night approached. I had unwisely chosen to drive home on backcountry roads rather than the highway, so there were no lights, and with the increasing rain, I was hardly able to see the road.
I missed a hairpin turn and drove straight off the road, literally sailed through the air, over a barbwire fence, and landed in a hay field. As the car hit the ground, my face hit the steering wheel and my lip split open. I struggled out of the car, found the road and began to walk.
With no warm clothes, I was very cold in the pouring rain. As I walked, I watched for farmhouses where I could find help. I knocked on the door of two different houses, but no one answered.
I was surprised because Alberta is known as a very friendly place, but
it was after 11 p.m., so the homeowners probably didn’t feel safe opening the door to a stranger so late.
Cold, wet, and bleeding profusely, I walked on another half hour before lights appeared from another farmhouse. It was past midnight, but when I knocked on the door, it was opened immediately by a woman about 70 years old. She enveloped me in a huge hug and said everything would be OK.
She sat me down in her kitchen, gently mopped my face, made me tea and wrapped me in a blanket, trying to stop my shaking and shivering. She called the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to come to help.
While we waited for them, she wrapped her motherly arms around me and rocked me like a baby — treating me as though I was her own daughter. As we talked, she told me her name was Gwen Hurler and she lived there alone.
The RCMP arrived and drove me to a hospital to get stitches.
When I got home the next day, I sent Gwen flowers and a heartfelt thank you letter. For years after, we exchanged Christmas cards; each of mine included another note of thanks, not just for her help, but also for her courage in opening that door.
At 70, she would not have been able to defend herself had I been a burglar rather than a woman in great distress, yet she didn’t hesitate one second to open her door to me — blood, sweat, tears and all.
Gwen has since passed on to what I’m sure is a great reward. I want to let others know what a warm, kind and lovely woman she was, and take one more opportunity to say thank you to her.