Our weekend got off to a rather rotten start, I thought.

Since we purchased the minivan back in June, the Webmaster has been driving around my 1998 Ford Contour, which is not the greatest car in the world, but has been pretty reliable. That all ended at the mechanic’s shop on Friday, with a need for an obscure replacement part for the engine, which involved a ton of labor fees just for diagnosing the problem, and, by the way, our timing belt has never been replaced! ?!!??!? We thought the car had a timing chain, but no, sorry, says the dealer mechanic, where we purchased the car. The car has a timing belt because it’s a V4 engine, but the V6 model of the same car does have a timing chain. Yeah. No one bothered to tell us that at 60K or 90K, and so, here the poor car is at 100K+ and the timing belt is cracking. Thanks a lot, Ford of Kirkland.

The repair will technically cost more than the car is worth, but we’ve decided to go ahead with it anyway. It would cost more to get a newer car than it will to fix the Contour, and we don’t really have the time to go shopping for another car with the holidays fast approaching. I can’t believe I just wrote that. So, we’re gritting our teeth, vowing never to take the car back to the dealership again for repairs, and I woke both kids up Friday at 7:30 am so I could drive the Webmaster to the park-and-ride to catch his bus, which I get to do again today, because we will be lucky if the car is finished today.

All of this sucks in a big way. But we got a hard dose of perspective this weekend.

We have some neighbors down the street, a couple with two kids – a son who is four, and a little girl who is two and about 6 months younger than the Munchkin. We’ve been cordial neighbors up until now – the kids have played together a couple of times, mostly by accident and not design, and we’ve never been very close, though we kept talking about getting together for a dinner “sometime” and paid lip service to the whole friendly neighbor bit.

The Webmaster got an email from the dad of the family on Friday, telling him that their little girl, who I’ll call Little Mo, was diagnosed with leukemia two weeks ago. I was so upset that I instantly began crying. She’s so close to the Munchkin’s age that it just makes me physically ill to have to think about what this family will have to face for the near future. We are fortunate in that we live near one of the premiere children’s hospitals in the country, and that the family will not have to live in a Ronald McDonald House or another facility in order to be close enough for treatment. But the dad is self-employed and I have no idea what his health insurance situation is like. Having worked in the insurance industry for years, I hope that his coverage can deal with something this catastrophic.

I immediately wanted to do something, anything, other than just sending an email expressing our sadness and our offer of help. They already have a webpage set up, which had some very specific needs listed – since Little Mo has already started chemotherapy, they need to keep her surroundings as sterile as possible, so their list included household cleaners, as well as “comfy pants for Little Mo, size 3” because she can’t wear jeans right now. She’s had two spinal taps already, plus a bone marrow extraction and most of these procedures mean needles in her hips, creating pain and swelling. Because I had purchased some plain knit pants for the Munchkin recently, I knew where to go to find what they were looking for. So the Webmaster walked over to their house yesterday afternoon, bearing a bag containing Clorox wipes, a jug of bleach, and 2 pairs of size 3T knit pants, in black and bright pink. He talked briefly with the dad, and told him to get a hold of us even if they just need baby-sitting for their son – after all, we’re just down the street.

After all of this, a couple thousand dollars in car repairs is nothing. Waking up and rousing sleeping children in the early morning to drive my husband to catch his bus is easy. Dealing with a poop accident is nothing. If my kids are alive, healthy, and relatively happy, then all the rest is just icing on the cake. I have to remember that. I have to. It is far too easy for me to get hung up on the minutiae of life, and I have got to let go of the small things. If I learn nothing else from this, I hope I learn that.

In the meantime, the Munchkin and I are going to make some cookies this week and take them down the street. Then I will hug her and Tad, thank God that they are healthy and strong, and try and be a better neighbor from now on. And write a very large check for a car repair. We’re still not taking the car back to the dealer for repairs again, though – my goodwill doesn’t stretch that far.

3 Responses to “Perspective”

  1. linda
    October 23rd, 2006 17:28

    Deanna, let the rest of us know what we can do to help this family…we must always keep in mind: ‘There but for the Grace of God go I/We’…
    Clothes for Little Mo is one thing that we can do but what about the rest of the family…cookies don’t seem reasonable but, you can blog what more we can do.
    our love and prayers for the family and you who are wonderful neighbors.

  2. Captain
    October 24th, 2006 04:08

    How do I keep my day in perspective? Were any of my Soldiers killed today?…No. Then it was a good day. Bills, Bad day at work, flat tire, loss of a friendship, fired from your job, can’t find your keys…it all does not matter.

    Let us know what we can do to help this family.

  3. Dozeymagz
    October 24th, 2006 04:43

    Little things that annoy us in life are normal and it’s ok to get mad at them sometimes, but that’s all they are – little annoying things.When something like this comes along, everything changes and you realise just what IS important.
    There’s not too much we can physically do for them here, but please let them know we are thinking about them. It’s not much, but even knowing someone, somewhere does care can make a big difference.