June 20, 1970
Mom has always been good at lifting the downhearted, and she proved it again when Nate and I arrived in Wilmette. After a difficult week and a miserable drive in an old, beat-up rented van, we walked into my folks’ house feeling deeply discouraged.
Mom and Dad were watching the ten-o’clock news, each with a TV tray next to their favorite chairs. On the trays was the nightly snack they’d shared every evening for as long as I could remember: buttered toast with cheese, a piece of fruit, and a cup of tea.
Walking into this peaceful scene made our lives, by comparison, seem like they were in shambles – lack of income, sky-high bills, no work for Nate, unexpected summer school for me, the Army breathing down our necks, and a slew of life-shaping decisions looming.
Mom popped out of her chair when we saw us, welcoming us and lovingly taking Baron from my arms. “Sit down, you two,” she said. “I’ll make some more toast.”
By the end of the newscast, both of us were feeling better, nourished by kindness and good food. “How was the drive?” Mom said. Nate and I regaled them with van-stories that no longer seemed upsetting… only laughable.
“We practically had to push it ourselves to get it here without overheating,” I said.
“I guess,” Nate added, “that’s why the company’s called U-DO-IT.”
As we adjourned for bed, Dad said to Nate, “What do I owe you for the van rental?” And we were thankful he remembered.
When we came out the next morning, Mom had breakfast set up in the yard. Our backdrop was her clean laundry flapping on a clothesline like festive flags. She was practicing what she’d always preached: “Hang your wash out to dry, and your whole house will smell sweet.”
We ate our fill while Mom told us how eager they were to make little Baron part of their household routine (as she intermittently slipped him bits of ham and eggs). Nate and I knew they would treat him royally, and it would solve the problem of breaking our landlord’s rules.
Brother Tom, home from American University for the summer, was driving for a limousine service. (“The pay isn’t great, but the job is fun.”) He arrived home just in time to help us load the van with the “treasures” Mom and Dad had collected for our apartment.
As we drove away – after dark, for the benefit of the van’s engine – our smiles were genuine.
Part of the reason was the decision not to part with Baron after all. We just loved him too much to let him go. So he was safely in my arms as I knelt on the hard van floor waving goodbye to my parents.
Something Dad said as we were leaving was pretty special, too. “I’m glad you’re furthering your education this summer. More knowledge can never hurt you. And paying for it is my job, so send all your tuition bills to me.”
“God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)