A loving hand

“Why is this happening to us?” Kristina moaned, as only a teenager can. “We’re good people. We haven’t done anything wrong!”

We’d all been carpooling together for a week while our other car was in the shop getting a couple thousand dollars worth of rehab. Then we found out that this car was also needed work and it was going to cost the same if not more.

I laughed. “It doesn’t have anything to do with being good people, Honey. Cars need repairs every so often. Sometimes big repairs.”

“I know,” she said, “I was really just joking.”

I was trying to take a parent-with-broad-shoulders tone. Show her that you take these things in stride. Life throws you problems. You solve them. You get unexpected bills. You pay them.

But to be honest, I had a bit of inner drama queen of my own going on.

As in, Really? It hardly seems fair that two cars need major work at the same time.

And it doesn’t seem fair that the Suburu is giving us in trouble. I’ve never been a fan of paying the new car premium. It feels like taking a wad of bills and setting them on fire. I’d rather go for that sweet spot when a car is virtually new, but costs a whole lot less. That approach has always served me well.

But buying a new Suburu was worth it, we told each other. They’re reliable. They’re safe. It’s impossible to make them skid in snow. We’ll have this one for years.

Come to find out, the 2008 Outback has a well-documented structural problem. Now, that really doesn’t seem fair! Have you ever heard anyone say anything about Suburus except how much they love them?

Just to add some sand in our shoes, it looked like we were going to be housebound for the whole weekend.

John looked at me across the kitchen table. We were figuring out all the ins and outs. When would car 1 be finished? How long could we drive the Suburu? Should we be driving it at all? Did we need to rent a car? And of course, how were we going to pay for it?

“Well,” he said, “It’s only mechanical problems and it’s only money.”

Oka-a-a-a-y. Money is RATHER important at the moment, it seems to me.

But I could feel some of my stress starting to drain away.

John went on, “No one’s hurt, no one’s hungry, and no one’s even upset at anyone else.”

“You’re right,” I said. “Imagine if something happened to you or Kristina, or anyone else in the family. Then I would look back on this day and think, You know that day when our cars were falling apart and costing us thousands of dollars? That was really one of the best days of my life.”

John put his hand over mine. “It IS one of the best days of our lives.”

And he was absolutely right.