St. Thomas Aquinas Came to My Ambulance

Deal W. Hudson
January 28, 2015

The Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas

I would guess that most Catholics look at the sanctity of St. Thomas Aquinas as primarily an intellectual charism, given that he was the greatest Christian intellectual of the Middle Ages, a period of over 800 years.

I had viewed St. Thomas in this way, ever since the first day I read from the Summa Theologica, accelerating my journey into the Catholic Church. The day I “met” Aquinas, so to speak, was in the spring of 1980. In February 1984, I was received into the Church taking the name “Tommaso” in tribute to the saint who had opened my eyes to the truth, and truths, of our faith.

Five years later I would learn that the sanctity of St. Thomas extended far beyond the teaching that designed the architecture of all subsequent Catholic philosophy and theology.

The Bronx River Parkway

The Bronx River Parkway

It was a beautiful September afternoon in 1989, and I was driving south on the Bronx River Parkway to the new faculty reception at Fordham University. Not being in a hurry, I was driving in the middle lane below the speed limit. It was around 3pm, and the traffic was very light.

Out of the corner of my eye, in the side view mirror, I saw a car coming very fast in the lane to my left. Just as the car passed me, it swerved in front of me — I assume the driver was trying to impress me with his driving skill. Well, the driver failed to execute his “manly” maneuver; his car clipped the front left fender of my mine, turning my car 45 degrees to the right and hurtling towards a steel guard rail.

I looked at the rail and my speedometer, which read 40 mph, and said “goodbye” to my wife Theresa and my sixteen-month old daughter Hannah. Since I wasn’t wearing a seat belt, I knew I would not survive the impact.

My car hit the guard rail and bounced backwards into the middle of the parkway. As the car came to rest, I was amazed that I was still conscious, though blood was streaming down my face and onto my (brand new!) sport coat. I sat completely dazed as other cars whizzed around me.

I was starting to lose consciousness when the door opened and a off-duty firefighter started to take care of me, applying pressure to the deep wound in my scalp. He apologized telling me he had to leave but assured me an EMS vehicle was on its way. I was left feeling afraid and vulnerable, but within a minute I heard the sound of an ambulance approaching.

But once again, I was losing consciousness and feeling cold.

The door opened again and I felt myself being lifted out of the car, placed on a stretcher, and put into the back of the vehicle. Everything was going dark when I heard a woman’s voice, with a strong Irish accent yelling in my face, “You’ve got to get yourself together, now!” Her voice brought me back to consciousness. Then, I found myself whispering, “Thomas, Thomas, Thomas…..”

After repeating his name, my mind cleared, my body lost its chill, and I started conversing as if nothing serious had happened.

It was a quick ride to the North Central Bronx Hospital, where after several hours of waiting, a female resident freshly arrived from Mississippi, applied double stitches to my scalp, which was almost removed, and the deep cuts in my forehead. Her Southern accent was reassuring though I was shocked when she told me I was being sent home the same day.

Later that evening Theresa arrived to take me home. When she put baby Hannah was put in my arms I broke down, uncontrollably, remembering I had said “goodbye” to her and her mother only a few hours earlier.

As the days passed and the details of the accident on the Bronx River Parkway became more vivid to me, I realized that I owed my life to Irish lass in the EMS vehicle and the saint whose presence I spontaneously implored. Her’s was the voice that pierced the darkness making way for the Angelic Doctor to shine through.

 

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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