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Friday, 14 January 2011

What More Could One Ask?

By Rita Kenefic who blogs at Grins, Gripes, and Grannyhood

The sunny skies of this Sunday in September mirrored my mood as I drove up 309 hoping to get home in time for dinner. At 18 years of age, I felt like I was always rushing from one event to another. No matter, I told myself, enjoy this day, enjoy this great car.

Shortly after I had killed my first car, a red Rambler, my powers of persuasion worked again and my dad "loaned" me the money to purchase my beloved white Corvair. It was the closest thing I'd ever get to a sports car and I loved it.

The cute little lever in the middle of the bucket seats allowed me to pretend I was shifting gears. My girlfriends were envious and the guys were amazed that the engine sat in the rear of the car. Now that's unique trunk space.

In five months of ownership, the car never gave me a problem. Of course, I had learned from my experience with the Rambler that if you want a car to treat you well, it's a good idea to put oil in the engine periodically.

The exit onto Norristown Road loomed ahead and I automatically turned right. The radio, tuned into my favorite station, blared a popular tune. Intent on savoring the last leg of my journey, I sang along and enjoyed the breeze ruffling through my hair.

Suddenly, the screeching siren of a fire engine broke my reverie. After making a hurried sign of the cross, I spotted the fire truck in my rear mirror and swerved to the right to let it pass.

The huge, red engine drew closer.

The huge red engine drew closer and stopped.

The huge, red engine drew closer and stopped right behind my white Corvair.

Wow! This is strange, I thought. My heart thumped a little faster and a shaky, uneasy feeling replaced my carefree mood. Quickly, I stepped from the car to investigate the situation.

A sickening smell and black smoke wafted skywards from the rear engine. I noticed the dancing flames just as one of the fireman shouted, "Hey, lady, didn't you know you're car was on fire?"

Did I really have to answer that?

Now an icy fear gripped my gut. No, I wasn't really worried about the car. No, I wasn't particularly concerned about an explosion. The fireman were already dousing the flames. I was, however, worried - make that scared to death - about calling my dad and sharing the news that I had manage to demolish yet another car.

Another rather new car.

Another rather new car that was still on the books as an outstanding loan.

He was not going to be happy. I could hear his laments to my mother, "Jeanne, I don't know what I'm going to do with that girl."

A vigilant neighbor, astounded to see a flaming car fly by his house, had arrived on the scene. Since cell phones were non-existent at this time, he kindly invited me to use the phone in his home. Nervously, I dialed my house and was relieved when Mom answered.

"A fire. Oh, Rita, are you all right?"

Assured of my well-being, she quickly put Dad on the phone. My father echoed my mother's fears and I could hear the sigh of relief as he realized I really was not injured.

After asking my specific location, my dad said a hasty goodbye and within minutes was by my side, hugging me profusely and repeatedly thanking the kind neighbor. In fact, I could swear I saw tears in his eyes.

There may have been some tears in my eyes as well, but if so, they were tears of relief. Relief that my father was not angry or even dismayed about my inability to hold onto a car for more than a few months at a time. Hooray! I thought, no lecture. Is now a good time to ask him to front me the cash for another car, I wondered?

It wasn't until years later, when I became a parent myself, that I understood my father's calm and affectionate demeanor. In a situation like this, often a child can only see what has been lost. Parents, on the other hand, are blind to material loss when faced with the possibility of injury to their child.

Now I understand that my father's heart only had room for love and gratitude that day. His daughter was safe, his daughter was unharmed. What more could one ask?

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Hi Rita,

I enjoyed your story and especially liked how the excitement grew as the Fire Engine approached.

I know exactly how your dad felt about you being safe and sound and the car a burning hulk.I know he breathed a sigh of relief and thanked God you were all right.

One Summer our whole family (except Jerry) was at the shore and the police came pounding on our door to tell us that there had been a fire at our house and all I could think of was "Where is Jerry?Is our son all right?"

Only much later when we knew he had escaped unharmed did we even give a thought to the damage in the house. That's just the way parents think.

I hope you have more stories to tell. I liked this one very much....

Corvair was the car that Ralph Nader used as an example of UNSAFE AT ANY SPEED which preceded laws to make all cars safer. You were lucky to escape unharmed, and your parents were wonderful in placing your welfare above the loss of material goods. Bravo.

You hit the nail on the head with this great story! How great that you remember this so well. Spoken from someone with two young drivers in the family, 25 and 19! One more to go!

Great scene, wonderful writing..nice to read "good" things about parenting..keep 'em coming..

At the age of seventeen, I had a similar experience. And afterwards my father didn't even bring it up in spite of the fact that it was entirely my doing, losing control while I was trying to peel rubber around a wet corner.

And I would have rolled the car too, except for sideswiping a parked station wagon.

I was AMAZED at Dad's reaction -- and very thankful.

Did you live in Norristown, PA?
I visited a friend there a couple of times.
And I've killed a couple of cars. My husband was more concerned about clearing up details than about me.

Aren't parents wonderful? The unconditional love they give allows them to overlook the things children do wrong.

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