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These Mosquitos Became Unlikely Angelic Messengers

He needed a jolt of energy while driving on the family’s long road trip. The solution had the family buzzing for years.

Illustration by Julia White/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Only a couple more hours to go, I told myself. At last, we’d made it to northern Indiana after driving all afternoon and evening, heading home from a family vacation in Wisconsin. We’d gotten a late start packing up, none of us wanting to leave our lakeside haven before we had to. Now I was paying the price, my body exhausted. I didn’t want to take a break from driving now, though. It would be past midnight when we pulled into the driveway as it was.

I turned on the radio, softly, so as not to disturb the slumber of my wife, Jeannie, beside me. I was on a two-lane state highway, headed due south to Indianapolis. It was slower than the interstate, but less stressful. I generally didn’t mind driving late at night, though I really could have used a cup of coffee. I glanced at our three sleeping children, ages 14, 10 and 6, squeezed into the back seat of our Chevy Cavalier. Please, God, keep me alert. I didn’t really expect any divine intervention, my prayer more of a message to myself.

The voice of my six-year-old son, Jon, pierced the silence. “I have to go to the bathroom. Bad.” I couldn’t pull over on the narrow shoulder in the pitch dark. But right up ahead was a building. A diner. Maybe a chance to get that coffee after all. I pulled into the parking lot. The restaurant was closed.

In the headlight beams, I saw the tall grass surrounding the lot. That would have to do for Jon. I got out first and trampled down a patch, then motioned for Jon to join me. As he took care of business, I swatted at a mosquito that flew out of the brush. Then another. And another. I flailed at them, urging Jon to hurry. We ran back to the car, slammed the doors and pulled away. Jeannie and the girls were wide awake by now.

There was a high-pitched whine in my ear. I felt a mosquito touch down on my neck and slapped at it too late. “I can’t believe it,” I said. “I sure picked the wrong place to stop.”

Jeannie’s hands were waving every which way. “They’re everywhere,” she said.

I switched on the dome light. The girls were screaming. The car in complete pandemonium. Jeannie began methodically clapping the mosquitoes between her hands. Amy, our oldest daughter, noticed and took charge of the back seat crew. “C’mon,” she said. “Let’s get ’em.” She attacked the mosquitoes with glee. “Gotcha!” her sister, Jennifer, joined in. Jon giggled, determined to keep up with his sisters.

“You do the driving,” Jeannie said. “Let us take care of the mosquitoes.”

I started the car. Jeannie, usually quiet and mild-mannered, began announcing each one she vanquished. “One, two, three,” she counted off. The kids joined in, the number of victories growing rapidly. “Nine, ten, eleven.”

I was totally alert now. Way more than a cup of coffee could have accomplished. “Fifteen!” Clap. “Sixteen!” We laughed at how wound up we’d become. Only at 39, when the last mosquito was taken care of, did things settle down.

By the time I pulled into the driveway, Jeannie and the kids were sound asleep again, the car blissfully silent. I paused for a moment to reflect on the last leg of the trip. How tired I’d been. Praying for a jolt of energy. Could God have sent mosquitoes? Hardly my idea of angelic messengers. But it turned out to be the perfect solution. One our family would buzz about for years to come.

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