Sweet sixteen and I drove my own 1955 Chevy, not a classic then but maturing, not as shiny as this; but it was all mine. I drove it to school. After school, my job was to care for my 6-year-old brother Jeffery. This was not time I was permitted to drive my car, but I wanted to take my girlfriend Linda for a ride. I transported my brother to our grandmother’s house. He was happy. Grandma was always willing to watch him. I drove to Linda’s home. I took her for a ride in my 1955 Chevrolet. The plot thickens.
A steady rain had soaked the autumn leaves strewn on a little a road called Eleanor in Toledo, Ohio. A driver in front of me with her right turn signal blinking stopped her car before making her right turn. She stopped unexpectedly to correct her children in the backseat. I put on the breaks, but I crashed into the rear end of her car slightly denting her bumper and smashing my right front fender. Alas!
Linda called her father to come and pick her up. I drove my car home and parked it far away where my mother wouldn’t see it until after I had opportunity to tell her what had happened. I was ashamed that I had disobeyed and smashed my beautiful car. The place was dark. My mom was not home. My sister was not home. My brother was still with our grandmother. I left the lights off. The awfulness of the situation seemed to hover over me like a shroud until tears began streaming down my face. What had I done?
I was sitting at the end of a hallway crunched into a little ball weeping when my mother opened the door and heard my sobs emanating from somewhere in the dark rooms. She flipped on the light.
Here’s where I have to mention that I was not the only one to overreact in this situation. My mother, bless her heart, assumed when she saw me so terribly upset that something dreadful had happened. She began to weep! She kept repeating this one question:
“Where is he? Where is he? Where is he,” but I failed to answer still engulfed in my personal grief.
After the third or fourth frantic rehearsal of the question, it seeped into my consciousness and I responded: “Where is who?”
She answered back through her tears: “Jeffery! Your brother! Where is he?”
“Jeffery is at Grandma’s house,” I said.
“He isn’t dead?”
Here is the whole reason for my story. I deserved to be punished for my disobedience, but instead, I was rewarded. Why? Because my mother was happy. She was happy because my brother was alive and I was alive.
“Get up, Carol,” she said. “I’m taking you out for a hamburger. We’re going to celebrate.”
We went to the local hamburger joint to enjoy a meal. While we were waiting for our order to come, I said, “What about my car? I ruined it.”
“Money can fix your fender, but money cannot replace you or Jeffery. Don’t you know that I love you both more than money?”
Was I not blessed with a sweet mother?