Monday, October 19, 2009

Avalon obit

Her name was Avalon, and despite her beauty and good manners, she was best known as the reliable wheels for a freedom fighter.

Her first assignment: to free Maurice Carter. And she was up for the challenge.

The route to Benton Harbor, Michigan, where a Carter committee met monthly, was soon memorized. But she boldly took on bigger challenges in Benton Harbor, finding a tiny church where an Innocence Project laid out its plans to a skeptical community and where a jailhouse snitch told how he framed Maurice. She prowled through the inner city, despite the presence of a permanent cloud of evil, searching for witnesses who might clear Maurice's name.

No discriminator of persons, she humbly gave a ride to a drunken story-teller just as proudly as she transported Rubin Hurricane Carter to a prison to meet Maurice in person.

Not the least bit worried about distance, she traveled to Canada, Chicago, and Madison if she felt it would help the cause.

And when Carter was finally released, she gave him his first car ride to his first real bed in 29 years.

It was the same compassionate Avalon that gave Maurice his last auto ride to a hospital as he was slipping into a coma (We're going FAST!)

The Avalon attended Maurice Carter's funeral service, and traveled to Gary, Indiana, for Mother's Day and Christmas visits with Maurice's mom for years.

But Maurice Carter's transition to a better world didn't slow down the Avalon.

There were other prisoners who needed help at parole interviews, someone to speak up at public hearings, someone to help ailing inmates in their fight for medical care. There were other prisoners who just needed a friendly visit, a hug, a prayer. And so she traveled throughout Michigan, as far north as Munising and Marquette, and as far south as Coldwater and Adrian.

Over time, the Avalon inevitably started showing her age. After 200,000 miles of honorable service, her health began to fail.

Perhaps her final significant drive was to Jackson to pick up Ron Ross, whose two life-sentences were commuted by the Governor after he had served 11 years. Without stumbling, she brought him safely home. By then her frailties prohibited any more long drives, so she became the daily work vehicle for newly freed citizen Ross, a handyman earning his way back into society.

And that was working until Friday, October 16, 2009. Ron was in the Avalon, waiting in a stalled line of traffic in downtown Spring Lake, Michigan, when a giant SUV came roaring up from behind, and without application of brakes slammed into the rear of the car. The result was a chain-reaction crash involving five vehicles. Despite her age and her damage, the Avalon's airbags and safety-belt system worked perfectly, and Ron suffered only minor injuries.

The Avalon is beyond repair...nothing more than a heap of twisted steel and broken glass.

Mused Ron, in a brief, private eulogy: She gave her life to save mine.

With a little touching up, a preacher could use that line!

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