Memories and breakfast combine to let Jeff know he doesn't owe us...
| "Paid in Full"
By Donna Lowich
Hard as it was to believe, my son, Jeff, was soon to graduate from college! It still is amazing to me that twenty-two years can slip by that quickly. I watched him grow, mature and become the person I always knew he would be. There is no greater satisfaction in life. But the satisfaction is tinged with sadness, not a teary-eyed sadness, but a reluctance to release the past, and grab on to the future. It’s called the fear of the unknown, and it has claimed me as yet another victim of its folly.
One Friday night in March, my husband, Walter and I called Jeff to see if he was available to meet us at a restaurant for breakfast the next morning. Jeff had no plans for the morning, so we planned to drive the two hours to his college in Pennsylvania.
As we drove there, Walter and I discussed what we would tell him. It was good news, but we wondered if his suspicions were alerted because we had never done anything like this before.
Once in the restaurant, all plans were off. I was so excited, I could hardly contain myself. Before we even looked at the menu, I told Jeff that we had decided to buy him a car as a graduation gift. “Now, you know,” I warned, “we can’t afford a brand-new car, but you’re going to need something a little more reliable.” Jeff was driving a fifteen-year-old car at the time.
Jeff looked at us, completely shocked. He shook his head, no. “I feel as though I should be buying a car for you guys. You have always done so much for me, and have always been there for me. I owe you so much already. But, thanks.”
By that time, I was about halfway through my scrambled eggs. I put down my fork, and said to him, “Jeff, you have done more for us than we could ever do for you…Do you remember the time you…“ and we began to reminisce about times past. The time may have passed, but the memories lingered, fresh and clear.
There was the time when Jeff was a junior in high school. I was having more than the usual amount of trouble at work with a supervisor that made a point of it to maltreat me every which way she could. On this particular day, some people from our department but who were located at another building had come over in the late morning. I left the office for a few minutes; when I returned the entire office had emptied. They had gone to lunch but had waited for me to leave so they could depart unencumbered with someone who needed extra assistance, the result of two spinal cord surgeries some ten years earlier. To make matters worse, upon their return, I was accused of not covering the public desk.
I cried all the way home that afternoon. I came into the house, and sat at my kitchen table. I lay my head in my folded arms, and let the flood of emotions burst forth, emotions that had built up over months of such treatment.
I can’t remember hearing Jeff come in; he didn’t speak at all. I still had my head on my arms when I felt the warmth of his hand encircling mine. I looked up at him, and told him what had happened. He listened to me then just as he always does, with an open heart. At that moment, I knew that the only important thing was that he loved me, that my husband loved me, that I was important to them. How others feel and think are out of my control, and therefore should be low on my list of priorities. Imagine! He did all that with a squeeze of his hand, and a few thoughtful words. As I told Jeff on that Saturday morning in Pennsylvania, “That’s pretty impressive stuff for a seventeen year old.”
There are other stories of saving money and ordering Mother’s Day baskets through his school, from the time he was in second grade, all the way through middle school. He loved to get up early, wait with the basket on his lap and surprise me with it.
When he was still in preschool, and just learning to print, Walter and I received the following note in block letters, written in red crayon: “Hapy Navrsry. I wsh I had mny to by you a prsnt.” (He was still learning vowels…)
Jeff, I’d say this ‘debt’ can be marked “Paid in Full”.