Monday, June 04, 2007

I don't have a car, but things are good


Well, I don’t have my car, at least for now. Dustin accidently wrecked it Friday night. He and Jordan were leaving work at the church, and it was raining. He was going the speed limit but turning a corner, hydroplaned and it scared him and he didn’t know what to do. Of all things, he crashed into four trees at the entrance of Tampa’s most exclusive gated community (where Tony Dungy has a house, actually!)

First things first – he’s fine and so is Jordan. Dustin just has a sprained hand, and Jordan doesn’t have a scratch. Dustin was taken to the hospital for his hand, but other than that he just had a broken heart about the whole thing. I’ve never seen him so emotionally overwrought. I set him at ease that I was never upset with him for one second. He didn’t do it on purpose and was being very careful and actually going a bit under the speed limit. I could have done it myself, and truthfully wish I would have instead of him. Then I would just have to worry about the car and not my son’s broken heart which bothers me more, of course.

The car is like an accordion in front, with the whole front torn off. Then when it spun around after hitting the first trees in front, crashed into another tree in back and dented the back. However no engine damage was done. Therefore, everyone who was at the scene thinks it will not be totaled. It will just have a ton of new body work – about $8,000 worth. Thank God for good insurance. I’m sad that Dustin may have an insurance hike (fortunately though, our insurance has a “first time accident forgiveness” for those who don’t have any speeding tickets or such, and he doesn’t so hopefully that will apply since he was not cited.) If that is the case and he has no consequences as such, then basically I’m getting an entire new body job which will not be a bad thing since even little dings on the car bother me and it would be better than before, actually. Every time we are at a store and park and get ready to open the doors, my kids say, “we know mom, we know… don't ding the doors!" I hate dings!!! Fortunately for me, a new body job will give me a perfect ding-less car.

If it is totaled, I will not get another car, at least for a while. It’s not an issue of money, it’s an issue of taking a little time to get beyond it. As everyone knows, my car is not an issue of monetary value to me, but sentimental value. We could never afford a car for me until three years ago. That’s right, I was 38 when I got my FIRST CAR. We have co-pastored together for 20 years, with me being unpaid until recent years. The only way we could work together like that for all those years with one income (and on the poverty level at that!) was if we pinched pennies to the ‘nth degree. For most of our married years, I had very little that was really of any material value, and had to even "pray in" my kids school supplies for most of their lives. Things like sneakers were a MAJOR purchase, and I'm not talking Nike, or Reebok...I'm talking even Wal-mart ones. Part of the choice to partner in ministry together for all those years was that we had to accept the fact that we were a one car family. I got rides everywhere I went if I was going without Larry or whatever. It was a juggling act.

Larry promised me all those years, “I can’t afford to buy you a car, but when I can, it will all be worth it.” On my 38th birthday, he surprised me with my dream car, a Ford Mustang convertible, (like the one pictured above, only mine doesn't have a spoiler) and that is what I have driven for the past three years. It’s silver with a black top, and a license plate that says 2Revs on the plate. (Get it? Two reverends…everyone says they love that…) Not one of my friends was a bit jealous when I got that car...all my true friends knew how many long years I had sacrificed with nothing to speak of, in the way of material things. One time I pulled up to a district meeting in my Mustang and another pastor's wife who didn't know my history came over in the parking lot and teasingly said to me, "Hey, I wanna be the pastor's wife in Tampa! I'm missing out!" I said, "hey, if you'd like to go through all I had to do to get this, BE MY GUEST!" :-)

It’s not so much what the car is, it’s what it means. Sort of like a wedding ring or something precious to you like that. I have told people if someone offered me a brand new Mustang or Corvette or anything like that, I would never, never trade it for MY mustang because of what it means to me in my heart.

Dustin cried so hard not so much for his consequences with insurance or paying for those trees (the insurance pays most of that too – he will just have a portion to pay) but because he knew how much joy that car brought me and the fact that it is a special thing that only our family really realizes how hard those years were. Dustin remembers well as he is the oldest. He was so happy for me when I got that car, just as he became so happy when he would ask me if he could have a new pair of sneakers when his wore out and instead of praying for money to come in to buy them and get them a month or two from then, (or ask his Grandma Shrodes) I would just put him in the car, take him to the mall and buy them that day. He remembers the day we stopped getting one drink at McDonalds and shared it as a family. I guess your unique "family experience" is something only those in the fam can understand. He remembers us not being able to afford to heat the whole house at the first church we pastored, and all of us sleeping in one room with a kerosene heater for the winter. And like me, he's very grateful that we don't have to do that anymore. It's such a wonderful thing to wake up every day and realize we are not living in a "faith journey" as far as praying to be able to pay the water bill.

Anyway, I reassured him, I love him far more than that car and in comparison that car means nothing. I finally told him, “don’t apologize to me one more time because you don’t have to. I have never been upset with you for a moment.” I was upset with myself. I wish I could have just driven him to and from work and not let him take the car but what can you do? I can't keep him from driving alone forever. Your kids grow up and they start driving. I can't be with him 100% of the time and protect him anymore. Why was he driving my car instead of Larry’s? Simply because although it is not a sports vehicle, Larry’s is a lot more expensive than mine and newer. Larry told me when the boys started driving that although my car means more because of it’s sentiment, his would be the worst financially to wreck so it was a financial decision we made. Do I question our decision? Sure.

So with all that, here is where it stands. Dustin is fine. He has the assurance we aren’t upset and love him with our life. I think he’s past any anxiety about this, thankfully, other than being a little afraid to drive again which we will help him with. And the car? We still haven’t gotten the word from the insurance company about it. In my heart, I don’t think it’s totaled based on what Larry, Pastor T (who was first on the scene of the accident), and Tom think. I trust their judgment a lot. If it is totaled? We will be a one car family for at least a while, just for emotional reasons. I don’t want to race out and buy a new car. I told Larry, “I don’t want to act on the rebound.” He laughs at me so hard for that – with my “emotional” attachment.” He says now, “I wish I would have bought you a junker.” I said, “it would make no difference, I’d still have a hard time because of what it means.” I want to wait at least a few months if that is the case and just “let go” of the mustang emotionally and then go from there. He said, “don’t be a bit upset, I’ll get you another mustang.” Again, do I have to explain this for the millionth time? It’s not the kind of car, it’s the meaning of the sacrifice of all those years, and how he brought joy to my heart with that gift. Someday maybe he’ll “get it”.

When it first wrecked after I found out Dustin was okay and could breathe a sigh of relief over that, my next fear was, “Larry is going to have me over at Ernie Haire Ford on Saturday buying a new car!” I was so afraid of that. Based on how he normally reacts with some things such as this, I really thought he would force me to get another car right away. I know it wouldn’t matter if he was buying me the best car on the lot, I would have stood there with tears rolling down my face and made an idiot of myself in front of the salesperson. And Larry can be pretty strong. I pictured him saying, “don’t be ridiculous Deanna, just take this car!” Then we would have gotten into an argument because truthfully I don't cry much but when I do, I really do. When he got home, I was pleasantly surprised to hear him say, “honey, I will not force you to do anything in this regard. We will go without a car as long as we have to in order for you to feel that you are ready to get another one.”

Whew. As soon as he said that, everything was alright. .

I have my two sons safely in one piece. That's more important to me than anything in the world. And second, I don’t have to buy a new car. Nothing will happen until and if I am ready.

Things are good. Things are excellent, in fact.

3 comments:

Pastor Lisa said...

Pastor Deanna! I'm so glad everybody is ok!

susan lilly said...

Pastor Deanna, I am so thankful he is ok. I know exactly what he is feeling since I am still recovering from my accident as well. love you, susan.

Leanne said...

I'm so glad your kids are okay!! In a weird way, you've sort of encouraged me, because my husband and I are a "one car family" right now, and you give me hope that it is possible to be in the ministry with just one car between us. Now I'm going to start praying that God blesses me with one as great as yours...I'm very sad for you, though - I'd be the same way emotionally! Hoping and praying that it's not totaled :o).