A friend I have known for over 20 years who now lives in North Dakota came to Chattanooga last week. Our plan was to catch breakfast together before church. It happened to be Father’s Day. I met Sharon on Father’s Day. She was new at the church I was attending back then and I could tell she had been crying. I knew as I had a hard time that day after my father’s passing that year, that she may need a friend. I reached out to her, “Today is a hard day, isn’t it?” Her relieved look that someone understood was the beginning of our getting to know each other and becoming friends.
Life took us in different directions through the years but we still kept in touch. It was ironic that the day we would get to visit would be Father’s Day.
This one in particular was emotional for me once again – even though it had been years after my father’s passing or it affecting me so much. Anytime Sharon and I were together; it was like the wheels of a train stopping! Sparks always flying everywhere! But no matter what, it always ended the same – with both of us laughing.
In our 20s, Sharon and I were grown up kids. We were not really adults at all. Or maybe we were, but we were the enlightened ones who knew how to let our inner child come out to play. I hadn’t seen Sharon in a while - a lot had changed for both of us. We met at Cracker Barrel and I was introduced to her husband, Billy, and I was delighted to see her mother, Pat, again. Sharon is a braniac. She always referred to me as a dumb blonde and would love it when she could point out my ‘duh’ moments.
Luckily, I didn’t have any of those moments at our breakfast. Her mother asked me about my writing. As I was telling her about my assignments, all of a sudden I heard the train coming to a halt and the sparks began to fly! Sharon, as smart as she is – is also the biggest klutz I have ever met! She makes the bull in a china shop look like a Geisha! Sharon knocked over her water and her husband ‘Johnny on the spot’ pushed his chair back quickly and pretty much missed the geyser of water and ice that came rushing his way! It wasn’t so much the fact that Sharon was her same klutzy self that was so comical but more the fact that everyone seemed prepared or unmoved. We all knew this was typical Sharon.
I paused just for a moment as Pat unrolled the napkins that were around the utensils, began to sop up the water and then she looked at me and asked me to continue. Sharon may not mean to do these things but you can tell that she enjoys their outcome immensely. I am not sure if it is the Cheshire-cat grin or that flicker of laughter that she hides in her eyes while the person is recovering from whatever catastrophe she caused, but I know my friend. I have to admit. I enjoy it too. Especially the look on Billy’s face; he was so proud that he saw it coming yet he still had not regained the color that was quickly drained from his face!
It felt so good that Sharon’s inner child had come out to cause trouble and mine was behaving. After breakfast, we took a few snapshots outside and said our goodbyes. They went back inside to shop for souvenirs and I went to my dead Jeep.
I said …
I went to my dead Jeep! Turned the engine – and nothing! I just knew that my dumb blonde inner child came out to play with Sharon! What did I do? Did I leave the lights on? Nope. Did I have a door ajar? Nope. I felt my forehead display the worry wrinkles that I get whenever I am perplexed. I quickly went inside Cracker Barrel to find Sharon and her family before they took off.
I came up behind Sharon and tapped her on the shoulder. It was as if she expected me. Maybe I didn’t pull any dumb blonde act to get myself in this mess – but nevertheless… I was in a mess. And THAT was true to form for my inner child when Sharon and I were together. I could not count how many times that she had rescued me during our friendship. She seemed to always be the strong one, making her mark in life and no one – no one - dared get in her way. I was the one who seemed to tie myself to a railroad track and scream ‘Help!’
Sharon was in a rental car and did not have jumper cables. I lived close by so she offered to take me home and I would go back to get my Jeep when my twins could come help. I said goodbye to my friend and went upstairs to do some writing since I would miss church. My twin sons came out that evening and boosted me off. I drove it around a while to charge it up. When I pulled into my apartment, I turned my Jeep off and made sure it started back up before the twins left. It did. The next day, I would be sure to check out the battery and get a new one if needed.
When I set out for an appointment that next day, my Jeep was deader than dead. It made an annoying clickety-click noise as if to jeer, “You’re not going anywhere!” while tying the rope around me as I willingly lay across the tracks. Cancelling my appointment and feeling the ropes tighten, I called my twins again. Jonathan was at work but would come over after he got off and help me out. Now, Jonathan is a single dad of darling four- and five-year-olds, so, of course, he stays tired being their whole world and working fulltime (and then… rescuing his mother) so I do not blame him at all for what happened next.
When Jonny arrived, he once again tried to get his mother boosted off. He left his van started and grabbed the jumper cables and hooked them up to my Jeep. I saw the claw things that go on the battery nubs give a little spark! I trusted that my son knew what he was doing even though I knew he was tired and had had a long day. He got inside my Jeep to give it a start and his van died. I said, “Jonathan, your van just died.” He got out and his sweet, tired face just dropped.
He and I both knew what happened. The negative/positive thing was backward. I was afraid that he had fried his battery completely and I would need to buy two batteries that day. We talked of us walking across to Walmart and buying batteries for us both but just thinking about lugging batteries in the hot sun was not appealing. Going to Walmart was not appealing. Now we were both tied to the train track!
We headed over to the apartment office to see if the manager was there and be able to give us a boost. I wondered if anyone had ever asked for two boosts before. Is this done? Isn’t that like borrowing two cups of sugar? I was sure that Emily Post would turn over in her grave! The office was closed. The ropes kept getting tighter.
Just then, we spotted a GIYRA! A co-worker of Jonathan’s had come to look at the apartment complex where I live. Never heard of a GIYRA? That would be, “God-Intervening-Yet-Remaining-Anonymous” – (HE does this all the time but I know who it is by now). With the office being closed, the girl obviously wouldn’t be getting a tour that evening and Jonathan asked if she would mind giving him a boost. Once again, my son administered the claw things onto a battery – his. He was certain that if he could get his van running again, that would be enough to get me boosted off too.
Jonathan’s van started up and his friend went on her way. Now to get some juice to mine – without the sparks! Jonathan applied the claws to mine carefully as if he were in the ER and had the paddles of a defibrillator in his hands. Of course, I had to make a quick ‘bzzt’ sound and try to scare him but he has dealt with his mother for many years and he knew my tricks. Ready to give it a start, he asked if I had the keys or if they were in the car. I said, “They are in the car.”
He pulled on the door handle and said, “It’s locked” with a forlorn look. Now, as much as I love trains, this is not the runaway train story that you might think. Jonathan was taught by the best – his mother. He smiled and opened the door - he was trying to trick me.
Not to disappoint my readers who know me by now - I did have the keys. I am still the master. I waited for Jonathan (who was onto me now) to come over and find the keys in my hands. It takes a lot for my boys to get one on me without me getting them first!
I handed my son the keys and thankfully my Jeep started. We let it sit for just a bit and then took it to Walmart to test the battery and possibly buy a new one. I was so afraid that it was the alternator. When I had turned the key off in the parking lot of the service center – that was all my poor Jeep had in it. It was not going to start again. As Jonathan and I were in the waiting area, we saw the guys having to push my Jeep into the bay like surgeons pushing a gurney into the operating room. This couldn’t be good.
After waiting for what seemed time enough for two surgeries, the technician from the back came out to give us an update. He began telling us the horror story of how his did the same thing to him and it ended up being the alternator, as if to prepare me for the worse. He said, “We had to push your car because we couldn’t even get it to stay crunk.” Even though I was not of his generation, I followed what he was saying. Just then, the main doc came from the O.R. to tell me that my Jeep was going to live. It just needed a pacemaker not a transplant. Whew!
I wriggled out of the ropes that were around my body and leapt off of the train tracks! I bought the pacemaker and it was installed in no time. My Jeep was up and running again! It was crunk!
Now, if only I can make sure there will be no more sparks until the Fourth of July.