Christmas 2017 was the last time my husband Murray and I and all five of our children were last together. This Monday, we were all seven able to get together for lunch. A comedy of errors? Of course.
This week, Rebecca came to Ohio to be in a friend’s wedding. The rest of the kids all live nearby here in Cleveland, so we made reservations to meet Rebecca for lunch in Columbus at 11:30.
We had plans to leave early enough we could stop along the way, maybe arrive early.
Murray first picked up Caleb and Sarah and dropped them off at home so he could be to the car rental by 8:00.
A few minutes after 8:00, he called me. His driver’s license was torn, and the people at the car rental agency said they were legally not able to accept that for identification. If he went to DMV right then and brought back a paper temporary license, that would be good enough.
No problem. He was close to DMV, not many people ahead of him, everything went smoothly. He was back at the car rental place by 8:40.
There were six of us traveling, plus Caleb’s guide dog Hammy, so we’d asked for a minivan. They’d had a minivan returned last night, but unfortunately, the person who dropped it off forgot to leave the keys. They were calling, trying to get the keys. Murray waited. Caleb and Sarah waited with Ping-Hwei and me at home. I called Benjamin several times, to give him a possible time to leave update.
No keys came in, so they finally gave Murray an SUV. When we picked up Benjamin and started the drive, Ping-Hwei asked, “Why are we going to Toledo?”
We just needed to turn around, and we were finally on the way.
Did we bicker? Very little. From past years, I can remember how loud our family always was. All the kids are adults now, and even Murray and I have mellowed some.
I did give them one mother-lecture though, saying they should be willing to stop listening to their music or books or whatever long enough to have a conversation with us. This was a family trip after all.
I was excited about a road trip. We usually listen to books, and I’d surprised Murray with an audio book of interviews and music with Paul Simon, Miracle and Wonder.
Unfortunately, my book player doesn’t have Bluetooth, and we’ve finally reached the time when the new car we rented didn’t have an auxiliary plug to connect to my player.
We did have some fun music to listen to though—Bob Dylan, John Denver, and a Christian singer we used to listen to when the kids were younger, Carman.
The music wasn’t loud, and Sarah had her earphones on—listening to “Phantom of the Opera,”—but suddenly she said, “Is that Carman?”
Besides gentle songs of worship, he also has many talking pieces with drama, and we were listening to “Satan: Bite the Dust.” Sarah said even with her music on, she heard “authorized, deputized,” and knew it was Carman.
Columbus is a large city. We knew that, but why didn’t we think that there might be trouble finding parking? Both Rebecca and we were finally able to park, several blocks apart, and we met in front of the restaurant. Murray said when he first saw Rebecca, he almost didn’t recognize her.
We’d been traveling for several hours—we finally sat down to eat at 1:00—so we needed a bathroom break. We walked downstairs to find the bathrooms, but, of course, the women’s was locked.
This will probably be the last time we’ll just have seven around the dinner table, since Rebecca is marrying Steve in April. Benjamin asked her if they fought like many couples do while planning the wedding. Rebecca said, “Yeah, I don’t even want to marry him anymore. I’m done with it.”
Then she said, “No, we hardly ever fight. I just tell him how he’s wrong, and he apologizes.” I asked if Rebecca would take her engagement ring off so I could look at it, and soon we were passing it around the table for everyone to see. Her birthstone is a sapphire, so it has a large sapphire surrounded by many small diamonds.
After lunch, we all walked to see Rebecca’s new car. Rebecca stopped a man walking down the street and asked if he’d take our picture. She said she trusted him, because he had a shirt on from OU, where she went to college.
Along the way we passed some scooters, which are popping up a lot these days. People can rent them, then just leave them parked anywhere. I asked to see one, because I didn’t know what they looked like.
Murray and Rebecca showed me one, and Rebecca suggested I try to climb on. I did, and wondered how in the world people can get their feet on such a small surface and trust that they’ll drive on it safely.
Rebecca got a 2020 car last year for a cheaper price, because it was scarred by hale. It’s a cute car, pretty small. Rebecca told me, “Her name is Haley, short for Hale Damage.”
On the drive home, Rebecca texted Sarah to say she should tell whichever boy who’d asked how many diamonds were on her ring that there were 38.
We drove through a downpour part of the way back, and when Murray stopped to get gas, Ping-Hwei asked, “Want me to show you how to use the gas cap?”
What all did we talk about at lunch?
Sarah told Rebecca about a music program Benjamin has written for the computer. We discussed the stock market, IRAs, and Bitcoins.
The kids talked about their jobs. Caleb said he’d go through more training this fall so he could do additional work. They talked about books they were reading, and Benjamin told about the book he’s writing.
Rebecca brought Sarah a coffee table book and magazine about her favorite music group, BTS.
We talked about fast cars and travel the kids have done—Airbnbs in Denver, when Rebecca went to school in Spain, roller coaster rides. About Benjamin’s adoption and his birth parents. About the smell of marijuana. About what a good dog Hammy was being in the restaurant.
Then one of my children asked another one a question I’m not going to repeat here today. But I can’t remember the last time I laughed as hard as I did at that moment.
I still felt so at home with this precious family God has gifted me with.
James 1: 17:
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.