Recognize the Angels in Your Midst

A Tribute to Rhode Island Lawyer:  Joel Chase

Yep, you read me right…”Tribute” and “Lawyer”–Two Words You Won’t Often Find Together….But make no mistake, when you’re at the edge of an abyss, it’s great to find a champion….

I’ve said it before:  Biddy Bytes is not a Religious Blog.  When I included the words “Encouragement in a Difficult World” in my blog title (in the first years,) my blog was categorized, by Google, with the Born-Again’s and Bible Thumpers (not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

It’s just Not Me.

But is a spiritual entity, for sure, because I write about things in my life that didn’t have to happen the way they did. I believe Spiritual Forces were at work…..

There’s the Almost-Certain-Death I experienced, at age 28, on Lake Pepin in Minnesota, where I rolled over the top deck of a sailboat, hooked to a trapeze (hiking gear), gathering loose ropes about me (boat owner failed to batten down the lines.)

Next, I slid over the side and the entire boat, capsized, plunging me 30 feet below, tied to that mast. Wet canvas sails enshrouded me. In the inky blackness, I was all too aware of the little time I had to free myself.

I thrashed at the lines and miraculously managed to unhook the device, then kicked with all my might to get to the surface before blacking out.  I had seconds to do this.

There’s no logic to my salvation. I should’ve been an MBF (Minnesota Boating Fatality.)

I consider another event similarly compelling:  I taught with a colleague for many years, in Rhode Island.  She married a man who’d been in the news as lawyer:  He’d represented Jeffrey Scott Hornoff, a married cop who’d been convicted of killing a woman with whom he’d had an affair. In a rare case of Justice Delayed, Hornoff was cleared when the real killer confessed, several years later.

Her husband represented Hornoff; he’d never ceased believing in him.

Now, he’d help my husband and me.  It was 3 years ago, when we were coming off the Accident.  My husband “died;” hospital staff revived him; but there was minimal insurance (guy who caused all the trouble had the smallest legally-allowed and our bills were staggering.)

North Carolina lawyers (where the accident took place) didn’t want our case. Officially, we were Rhode Islanders who lived in Asheville 5 months of the year.

Worse yet, husband wasn’t driving the car I had insured, and he wasn’t even listed on my policy. To collect from my insurer would present a formidable uphill battle.

Just before I was to throw in the towel and accept anything insurers would pay (you can stack claims,) we met my teacher friend and her husband. My husband’s neck brace prompted a discussion that would prove so valuable.

We were a thoroughly-beaten pair that day: Temps were close  to 100 degrees; we felt alone in our misery; we’d been up against a legal and medical bureaucracy for months.

Joel Chase told me to not call those insurance companies–Told me to call him Monday morning.  And I did.  That set us all on a 3-year-course of events, where we prevailed.

Why is he so good?  He listens to clients and respects their views.  He kept us in the decision-making, throughout, and was a titan in negotiations with Medicare, Tricare, the hospital, and the surgeon. I would never have known how to operate in that sphere. He buoyed us when we were down, advising us to “Maintain our course,” against almost-impossible odds.

Yes, other folks can rag on lawyers and put down what they do, but my husband and I know the value of a skilled negotiator who led us out of a financial nightmare.  He saw to it we weren’t doomed by a technicality.

Meeting Joel Chase on that day may look to others like serendipity…But I know otherwise.

***It only seems fitting a blog I began 3 years ago, at depths of despair, following my husband’s horrific accident, should have as its Anniversary Special, a tribute to a man who helped us, on the road to economic recovery….This one’s for you, Attorney Joel Chase.

Now, for a chilling account of how I thwarted death (but have NO IDEA HOW,) click on this link to read what happened to me on that lake in Minnesota, so very long ago (when I was young and ever-so-foolish.).

Had your own Angels? Maybe there’s a great lawyer in Asheville or elsewhere you wish to tout?  Maybe you recognized his/her value only later in life…Share at Comment section, below.

***P.S.  This is post #399 of Biddy Bytes, a blog I began writing in early July of 2010.


About admin

A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog,, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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