The day I was supposed to drive from Northern California to Washington to study for the bar exam, I lost my car keys. It was the summer of 1991. The 1977 Buick Skylark that was my wheels (and perforce humility) only had one set of car keys when I bought it 5 years earlier from the elderly neighbor lady. One minute, I was loading my car and then the next I was searching frantically for the keys. Which were not found that day. By the time the locksmith came and cut me a new key, it was late in the afternoon. My mother convinced me to start my journey the next morning, rather than drive at night through the redwoods and isolated parts of Oregon to Eugene.
“Never drive when you are upset,” Sally proclaimed, an admonition I have endeavored to pass on to my children.
“Maybe,” she opined, “this is God’s way of telling you to spend another night.”
For every time I listened to my mother, there were probably ten that I did not. That time I did.
The keys were found almost a decade later, when my parents were moving from the house, my Cal Bear keychain a tad rusted, still grasping tightly to the keys of a car I no longer owned. They had fallen through a crack in the deck. How and why they were ever found remains a mystery.
A lot of things have fallen through the cracks of my life over that past two years. When Sh*t Happens, this is to be expected. There are peripheral casualties. It is impossible to hold the center at all times, just impossible. This is painful. Between the illnesses, a heart surgery, the death of a parent and the loss of a job, Thing 3’s nascent college career slipped through the cracks. This is partly her fault, partly her parents, and partly the natural order of things. Even when you are getting straight A’s, life sometimes just falls apart.
“Maybe, ” I opined, “This is God’s way of telling you to spend another year at home.”
I do not know what might have met me on that road on a dark summer night. I can only tell you that my mother was right. Never drive when you are upset; take the extra time.
So, the prodigal daughter is home. My arms are wide open, even if I don’t have a fancy dress and honking ring with which to welcome her but Big Mike is fixing her dinner. Perhaps she will do me one better and listen to her mother two out of ten times. Perhaps.