We Have Ignition
Paying it back
The other end of the line fell silent.
“You are NOT serious,” my sister, Kathleen, said. “You are NOT giving me your car.”
“Yes, I’m serious! I wanna give you our car!” I replied in the irritated little sister tone I’ve never managed to outgrow as I grabbed my son, Ian, who was about to do a header off of a sliding board. “It’s YOURS.”
She started crying… and then I did, too. (Fortunately, Ian did not.)The last gasp of Kathleen’s old car was the latest in a stretch of extraordinarily bad luck that threatened to sink her whole way of life. I needed to do something … fast. And, I wanted to repay her for the unwavering support she had given me over the past two years.
When my husband left the hospital when Ian was born to tend to our two dogs, one cat, and a dozen fish, Kathleen was always by my bedside. My mother would stare at me, attempting to hover from a seated position, wanting to do something but seemingly at a loss as to exactly what. Kathleen was there to deftly shoo away the well-wishers when I was in too much pain from an emergency C-section and/or too hormonal to appreciate them.
In the few weeks after giving birth, there were beautifully sunny days when I couldn’t get out of bed. Ian would nurse, then we’d doze, then he’d nurse some more while I grew angry with myself for lacking the sheer power to walk out the front door and into the world, just the two of us. (At least until my husband came home from work.)
But the phone was always close by. No matter how late it was or how busy she was, all I needed to do was to pick up the phone and whimper, “Can we come over?” and the answer was always an enthusiastic, “Sure!” Just a few kind words and a simple change of scenery to chuckle over the latest celebrity dirt or eat Taco Bell burritos helped give me the confidence to be the kind of mom I wanted to be. That feeling makes the gift of our perfectly serviceable 2000 Mercury Sable seem to pale in comparison.
Recently, Kathleen has been fighting breast cancer. I would like to say that this story has ended happily but it hasn’t … yet. I am hoping— especially for Ian’s sake—that it will.
And, that one day he’ll know that, sometimes, simply just being there is the greatest gift anyone could give.