From the Pastor: Birthday Party with Mom
Last Saturday I had a rare weekend road trip planned with my mother. Good friends of mine, Dong and Nhung Nguyen, whom many of you already know, live in Deerfield Beach, on the east coast of Florida. They have two boys (and a girl on the way) and they were throwing a combined birthday party for the boys as one turned three and the other turned one year old. After my Saturday “obligations” were completed, I jumped into my car, picked up mom and we began the four hour drive across the state, trying to get to our destination between 5:00 and 6:00 if at all possible. We wanted to (without picking up a speeding ticket) get there as quickly as possible, knowing that our time would be limited before having to head back that night.
The trip was just as nice as could be. Mom talked and talked and talked (it is her favorite activity, but don’t let her know I said that!) and I pretended to listen to most of it (don’t tell her that, either!). We prayed the Rosary, we saw how vastly different the towns along highway 60 are now compared to when either of us used to drive that road on a regular basis, and we passed the time as we passed the mile markers. The weather was great for a drive, there were no accidents, the construction zones were devoid of workers, and all was going well. Until the tire blew.
I pulled off to the side of the Florida Turnpike within sight of the sign proclaiming, “Exit 97, Southern Blvd.” So much for making good time. The “donut” spare tire in my Honda Pilot is under the car. I decided not to crawl underneath but instead called AAA. After all, that’s why I pay for that service. The nice lady on the phone assured me that someone would be out within 45 minutes. So I called Dong and told him we would be a bit late. Believe it or not, I was pretty happy about the timing of the flat. After all, we were in a fairly safe spot just outside of West Palm Beach, we had been traveling through many miles of nothingness on highway 60, and the tire could easily have gone flat in a much worse place. Or it could have blown on the way back, in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere! So I was happy. Next, I got online via the phone to check for a tire store, since there was no way I could travel all the way home on the tiny spare. Cell phones can be great tools, sometimes, and this one one such time. A quick search for tire shops showed a whole list of shops which closed early on Saturday, but one, Tire Kingdom, was not only still open but was only 3 1/2 miles away! A phone call later proved that they had tires in stock that would fit my vehicle and they were open until 7:00 pm, giving me about 2 1/2 hours to get there. No problem.
Then, after thirty or forty minutes, the phone rang. It was Dong telling me that his brother, who was also going to the birthday party, was on his way to change the tire. He figured he could get the job done before AAA got there and was happy to assist. So we waited to see who would get there first. I know this will surprise you, but AAA was not the first on the scene, even though their 45 minute timeframe had elapsed. A van full of kids and adults came up behind us and stopped. A couple of men jumped out and started to jack up my car. The old tire came off without any problem and the spare was retrieved from it’s place underneath. But the darned thing wouldn’t fit! “Sorry, Father,” the brother said, “it is the wrong size rim. The holes don’t line up.” He wound up taking my flat tire to the shop to have them put a new tire on it. A half an hour or so after he left, AAA finally showed up but there was nothing to be done so the tow truck left again. It took a while but eventually we got the new tire on and headed back down the road. We made it to the party, had a bite to eat, laughed about the stupid spare tire and headed back home. I dropped mom off at her house about 1:30 am. She’s a “bit” older than I am yet still had to get up early to teach RCIA class. I don’t know how she does it. I certainly am blessed to have her with me, that’s for sure. (You can tell her that part!) But no more Saturday road trips for a while.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka