Family really is an amazing thing. Parents especially. Saturday I trotted out to my car to find my front passenger-side tire flat. It was already past five o’clock. I was strapped for cash, saving my last few pennies for a project I was planning to build on Sunday at my parents’ house in Omaha using my mother’s power tools. I called my folks to lament and ask if they knew of any tire places which might be open past five on a Saturday. Sears was, as it turned out, but were too busy to be able to do anything about my flat until Monday. The conundrum was – if I fixed the flat, I could get to Omaha, but couldn’t afford the materials for the project – if I saved my money for the project, I couldn’t get to Omaha to build it, let alone transport the lumber home.
My father called me the next morning to see how I was. “So, what are you doing today?” he asked.
“I’ll probably put the donut on so I can take that tire up to get fixed first thing tomorrow. Otherwise, not much, I guess. Unless you and Mom want to come pick me up, take me to Lowe’s, pay for my stuff, let me build my project, and then take me home again?” I laughed.
“Let me talk to your mom and I’ll call you back.”
An hour later they pulled on to J Street while I was still struggling with the tire. After twenty minutes and a trip back up to my tool box, I’d finally managed to get the tire cover off. After standing on the tire iron and jumping up and down with little progress, my Dad took over getting the tire off while I fought with the jack. Fifteen minutes later, the donut was on, the flat safely stowed in my trunk, and we were on our way back to Omaha.
My mother took me to Lowe’s and didn’t complain once about the time it took me to find all my materials or the hundred bucks she shelled out for lumber and assorted hardware or that I was going to take over their garage and drag out her very impressive and expensive array of perfectly organized power tools. I filled them in on the subletting situation and when I would get my first paycheck from my new job, which wouldn’t be until after my first month’s rent was due. My Dad just stated he could move some money around and cover the rent until I could pay him back. I don’t even remember asking if he would (though I probably would have worked up my courage sooner or later due to lack of other options).
My brother, Brandon, came into town for lunch, to celebrate my new jobs. Then he and Dad ran down to pick up an absolutely monstrous new plasma television. They arrived with the television about the same time Mom and I arrived with the lumber. Brandon helped Dad clear out the basement, demolish the old entertainment center, hook up the new television, and basically made himself useful despite the fact he was missing out on picking up some extra hours at work. It was a rare day when my family worked together without cajoling or grumbling either. We always help each other out, but sometimes it takes some effort. This week, it hardly took any at all.
Families are great and amazing things. It makes me wonder what we could accomplish as a community, a world, if we could all just work together. If when someone asked for help, the question was not whether to give it, but simply how it could best be accomplished. I know that my family’s willingness to help me without guilt-trip or grumble made me happy to do the same. Happy to crawl under the kitchen sink with the jig saw and put a hole in the cabinet where my mother wanted it. (Though I did complain about the sawdust in my underwear after the fact, but I think sawdust in the underwear is always justification for a little complaining.) As I cleaned and swept the garage when I was finished, I did so with a greater diligence, attention to detail, and a much lighter heart than I might normally have been prone to.
Even flat wheels keep turning.