My mother-in-law passed away just over a year ago, and my father-in-law is just beginning to show signs of emerging from a most understandable funk. I’m more than glad for him. I think he and I have had more meaningful conversations now than in the entire previous twenty years we have known each other. Not quite the phoenix rising, but more like a bird pecking his way out of a shell. And I’m happy for him.
So it was most unfortunate when he lost just about everything in a river storm surge during the part of Hurricane Irene that hit us here in New York. This included his car. Surprisingly, he took it all in stride.
The conversation between his children then had to turn to finding him a home AND a new car (and some clothes and shoes as well). Sent out on his own one day, he put a deposit on a BMW, sight unseen, and with no haggling whatsoever. One daughter put the kabosh on that.
And so back and forth they went. He told them a number of times how he’s always wanted a Mercedes Benz or a BMW. His daughters, being logical, smart young women who care deeply for their father, discussed the merits of an Acura over a Lexus. Something sensible. His son, my husband, vacillated between his father’s dream and sensibility.
A phone call from sister to brother, she calling from the back of a New York City taxi cab to discuss the same topic, may have made the decision a little easier.
As she was comparing the Japanese made vehicles over her cell, and reiterating her father’s wishes, the cab driver broke into her conversation. My husband waited on his end of the line, and when she came back, after exiting the cab, she told him what the gentleman had said.
He told her, firstly, that he was sorry for listening to her conversation, but that upon hearing it, felt compelled to speak up. He went on to tell her that he always used to drive sensible cars. Then, about a year ago, his thirty six year old son, just days away from his wedding, “dropped dead”. Just up and died. And it made him realize that we never can know when our time will come. So now, he told her, he drives a 2011 Mercedes. And next year, he’ll drive a 2012 Mercedes, and in 2013, well, you get the picture.
I can’t stop thinking about that man. My heart hurts for him. Sometimes the best lessons are learned the hardest way. Oh, and I love New York City. Now that’s an NYC experience.