By LINDA MESSMER
Debbie Mustard's family endured many crises and possible tragedies this year. A son and nephew, both Marines, were sent to Iraq for a tour of duty. They returned home safely.
Her husband, Ralph, was involved in a semi/pick-up wreck but was uninjured. Debbie's son-in-law, Reynolds Batchelor Jr., was in a motorcycle accident. He received a broken ankle but there were no life threatening injuries.
Debbie thought that was all she could handle. But more tragedy lay ahead.
On Sept. 24, her older son, Shawn Coleman, was on his way home from work at Great Dane in Brazil. He was headed west on U.S. 40 on his Harley Davidson motorcycle. When he got to Church Street in Harmony, a lady turning north didn't see or hear Shawn and ran right into him.
"Shawn and I pass each other every day on our way home from work," Debbie said explaining how she found out about Shawn's wreck. "We usually pass at Wal-Mart or at the Knightsville flasher light. I wondered where he was that day."
As Debbie neared Harmony she saw there had been an accident that had just happened.
"There were a few people there and a couple deputies," Debbie recalled of the tragedy. "The ambulance hadn't arrived yet. I saw somebody lying there. Then I saw it was my son. I just felt panic. He wasn't moving at all. When I got to him, I could tell he was alive but I didn't know what his injuries were.
"I really think I was just numb and my mind was a blur until we got up to Methodist Hospital where he'd been lifelined."
Shawn had no head injuries but did receive multiple broken bones and internal injuries. He is still under a doctor's care.
"I was just thankful he was alive," Debbie said. "Of all the wrecks, his was the worst. Basically I thought, why is this happening to our family. You have to take whatever's dealt to you, but I said, please, no more this year. Enough's enough."
The year of 2003 is nearing its end. It's been a year full of crises and potential tragedies for Debbie Mustard and her family. "But thank God everybody's all right," Debbie said with relief in her voice. Deep down I think there were guardian angels for all of them. I believe everybody has a guardian angel. They've been working overtime for our family."
Shawn agreed with his mother. "I was surprised to be alive," he said. "I believe in God and I know somebody was watching over me."
Debbie's nephew, Sgt. Noah Tretter, recently received his orders. He will be leaving for Afghanistan today. Debbie and her family know they have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. They entrust that Noah's guardian angel will go with him.