Why We’re Here: Calvin Miller, Jr.

It seems appropriate that just after Mother’s Day, we share a story about a mother’s intuition.

Andrea, Calvin Jr., and Erica

Martha Miller is the mother of three: her only son and her oldest, Calvin Miller, Jr., and two daughters, Erica and Andrea. On June 30, 2010, she spoke to Calvin just after 2pm. He was at work. He loved working on cars and was a mechanic at Firestone. They spoke briefly. He told her he was finishing a client’s car and would call her back later that night after he took it back to the client. That evening, Martha was at home trying to watch a movie but couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong with one of her children. She finally went to bed but lay there awake, unable to sleep. At 1:30am, the doorbell rang. She looked out the window and saw a police car in her driveway. At the door was a policeman and a chaplin. They asked her to sit down and told her that her only son had been hit and killed by a drunk driver. Martha couldn’t believe it. She had just talked to him that afternoon! He was supposed to be calling her back! The words rang in her ears, “Mom, I will call you back later.”

A few days later, Martha learned the details of what happened to her son in those final hours. He had finished working on the 1998 Cadillac and was on his way to return it. He had just gotten off Vietnam Veterans at Center Point Road in Hendersonville and was waiting to turn left onto Gallatin Road. When the light turned green, he made the left turn. But a drunk driver with a .13 BAC driving approximately 100 mph broadsided him and kept going, eventually hitting a utility pole. Witnesses say the car Calvin was driving was hit so hard it flipped multiple times in the air before coming to a stop upside down.

Monica Peterson and family

Monica Peterson, a Vanderbilt nurse who was on her way home from work, was the fourth car behind Calvin. She ran to the Cadillac and crawled in through the passenger side. She asked if he was ok.  He wanted to know what happened and what was wrong with him? She asked him his name but he could only remember his first name. She asked if he was hurt. He said “No, but I can’t feel my legs.” Monica saw that the whole dashboard was embedded in Calvin’s stomach. She took his hand and asked if he would like to pray. He said, “Yes. Sounds like a good idea.” After they prayed together, he asked Monica to please get in contact with his family and tell them that he loved them. She tried to reassure him and she stayed with him until help came to extricate him. Martha calls Monica an Angel sent by God to be with her son. She is thankful that Monica stayed with Calvin despite the danger. “The car could have blew up, but she stayed with my son.”

Calvin was taken to Vanderbilt where he fought to live for four hours before passing at 10:20pm. The Chaplin had mistakenly told Martha that her son was killed instantly. Monica helped Martha know more about the last hours of her son’s life.

Martha and Calvin, Jr.

Martha says there are no words to describe how you are impacted when you lose a child. Calvin, Jr. was 39, but she explains, “A parent should never have to bury a child.” She says a part of her heart is gone.

Calvin Jr. had a beautiful smile and a special laugh and he loved helping people. He often fixed cars on credit. At his funeral, people kept coming up to her to tell her how much he had helped them. And although he loved fixing cars, he still had dreams of a future. He was planning to go back to college. In fact, he had applied in January. His acceptance letter came on the day of his funeral.

Martha visited his grave every day for five years. She would tell him, “I will get that call back when Father God calls your mom home.” Now, eight years after the crash, she still visits Calvin, Jr., every month. There is not a day goes by that she doesn’t think of her son, but his birthday and holidays are the hardest. She keeps photos in every room and even in her car to remind her of the son who loved his family, loved going on cruises, bowling, motorcycling, and jazz festivals. She says it helps to see his face each day. “I talk to him and let him know what’s going on.” She tells him, “We love and miss you.”

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