A Drive in the Country
I am driving out into the countryside with my good friend ‘Stan the -Stang-, my mustang which I bought long years ago when I was 20. He was my first car. I hope that if I take care of it properly it will be my last. I almost wish that it could be buried with me. Maybe just the rearview mirror.
I remember so well the first drive out here on the country roads with Stan. I felt so much freedom. Now, years later, whenever anything disturbs me, I take a long drive with Stan. The farther that we go out into the country roads, the more I relax, and come to terms with whatever has decided to bother me. It almost never fails. This time the cause of the disturbance is not resolved, nor has it been in the several drives we’ve had on the same theme. Still, it is good to be here on the road and away from the house where trouble lies.
The problem I am trying to deal with involves our son Martin. He is the most materialistic person that I know. It was bad enough when he bought the gold rings (for himself, not a girlfriend) and that expensive watch with pretty much all the money that he had to his name. Then it got worse when he took out a loan to buy another – a loan for a watch! Who does that? He now wears the two of them on his left wrist. And he makes sure that people can see the wealth he is wearing whenever he approaches them. He holds his left hand out, fingers and wrist aglow with a show.
I was never like that at his age – 20. I had a proper set of values. The only material object I cared about at that time was Stan, and that wasn’t to show off to others, it was just for the ride that it gave me. I worry that he is just going to go farther and farther down that glittery path. What next? Gold teeth! And what will happen to the family company when it is his turn to run the show? Will he bankrupt it?
The Big Argument
When the drive didn’t help, I came home feeling even more frustrated and angry than when I hopped into the car at the beginning. Unfortunately my wife, who is usually the voice of calm reason when Martin or I are having one of our squabbles, was off visiting her mother in the long-term care home. So when I entered the house and, I cast my eyes upon him as soon as I opened the door, there was no one to diffuse what the two of us felt and were going to say. The gleam of the watches only pushed my mood farther into darkness.
An argument we have had many times before we returned to, but this time with more venom than ever before. I told him (not for the first time) that he was going to take over the family business when I retired, and I didn’t want him to bankrupt it by raising his pay in order to buy the ‘pretty baubles’ that he seemed to love so much. Then I came with the punch line. ‘You know you can’t buy love by purchasing expensive objects’.
He was silent for a few seconds, then he came out with his own punchline. “Well, what about you, dad. What about you and that car of yours, your precious ‘Stan’? You seem to have tried to buy love by having that big toy. You were always more with it than you were with me when I was a boy. Even more now.”
He followed that up by stomping out of the room and out of the house. I was so flabbergasted that I did not even try to call him back.
So what did I do? I went for a drive in my car. That was the only thing that I could think of doing. I drove miles and miles, with no good ideas developing. Then I stopped. I had a thought that I never believed could enter my mind.
I drove back slowly, almost hoping that the drive would never end. But of course that was impossible.
Two Days Later
Two days later, it was Friday. I ate my breakfast in silence. My wife Martha gave me a worried look, but said nothing. When Martin came downstairs to the kitchen, I stood up and said, “I need to show you something. Come outside with me.” When he hesitated, Martha looked at him and pointed to the door. He headed that way, not wanting to disobey her.
As we walked out together, I asked him a rhetorical question. “Do you remember a few days ago, when you implied that I was being materialistic concerning Stan?” He nodded his head.
“Well, I sold him away to a charity. Teaching you good values by how I act, is more important to me than any material object could ever be.”
Martin looked to the empty space where Stan was usually parked, and, literally, his jaw dropped. At first, he spoke no words in reply, which was unusual for him. Then he began a sentence, “I didn’t mean for you to…” but could not complete it. Then he turned and walked into the house.
Unknown to me at the time, soon afterwards, Martin asked his mother some important questions, for which, as usual she had the answers. A discussion and an arrangement followed
It Was Monday
Next Monday, I got up a little early, as I would have to make time for walking to the bus stop not far away. I was surprised to see that Martin was already up and waiting for me. His first words to me were, “Dad, I’ve got two things to show you.” He then lifted his left hand. I was surprised, almost shocked to see that there were no rings on that hand. Even more, there were no watches, not even one. I was speechless.
Then he led me to the door, opened it and pointed to the driveway. There was Stan. He then explained how he asked his mother what my favourite charity was. Then he pawned his watches and his rings, and, with a small loan from his mother, bought Stan from the charity in question.
Late that afternoon Stan and I took Martin for a ride in the country.