“They’ve stopped the bleeding,” my husband said from an emergency room 600 miles away. “He’ll be fine. Just get here when you can.”

Our five-year-old son had been hit in the head while taking golf lessons in our Dallas backyard from an unprofessional instructor – his seven-year-old brother. I got the call on my parents’ home phone in Kansas City where I was visiting. None of us had cell phones because this was 1996 before that technology was commonplace.

With the last Dallas-bound flight of the day departing in a few hours, my father did what any superhero papa would do: he broke the speed limit to drive me to the airport. Arriving in a blur, I explained my situation to an agent at the ticket counter.

“You’re too late,” he said, peering over his glasses as if he’d heard my story a dozen times before. I took a very deep breath. I wanted to scream and was in fact on the verge of opening my mouth to do just that.

“I’m sorry you missed the plane,” a woman’s soft voice came from beside me.  “May I help you call someone to check on your son?”

I nodded and then shuffled with this matronly stranger to a nearby pay phone, telling her my name and the hospital name. As she lifted the receiver and began speaking to an operator, my mind wandered to a blood-splattered ER where I envisioned my little boy grimacing in pain and crying for his mommy, me.

The stranger interrupted my nightmare when she handed me the phone. I listened as my husband told me that our son got dozens of stitches and the X-ray looked fine, but they would keep him overnight for observation. He then put my poor baby on the phone.

“I got to ride in an ambulance with flashing lights and it went real fast and I saw pictures of my skull and there’s a TV over my bed.”

His quirky personality seemed intact, if not my heart.

Next, his brother tearfully apologized.

“Accidents happen,” I said (and would say many more times while raising these daredevil boys to adulthood).

Comforted by their voices, I turned to thank the woman. She said she was happy to help and then left me in the company of my father before I realized I hadn’t gotten her name.

The next morning, I caught a flight and made it to my bandaged-headed boy who was propped up on pillows watching cartoons. I finally let out the breath I’d been holding in since the night before with enough air to ruffle an angel’s wings. And maybe it did.

After all, I hadn’t seen where the stranger at the pay phone had gone.