Cars these days are magical machines. You can watch a screen on the dashboard instead of twisting around when backing up. You don’t need a key to start the ignition—just have the fob somewhere in the vehicle and you’re good to go. Some cars can even mostly drive themselves. But these amazing advances can be disastrous, especially when you put an active one-and-half-year-old grandson in the car.
Over the holidays, on a lovely day in Austin, Texas, I decided to take Bo on adventure to the grocery story. His mommy and daddy were working, and I wanted to get out of the house. Pulling into the parking lot, I did what I always do: parked as far from the front doors as possible. I’ll do anything to get in a few extra steps.
“Okay, Bo, are you ready?” I called to the back seat. Looking into the mirror his mom had placed in front of his face so she could see what he was up to, I saw him smile. I got out of the car, grabbed my purse, closed the door, and came around to retrieve this new love of my life. But his door was locked.
Hmm, how did that happen? Going back to the driver’s door, I attempted to open it so I could unlock the rest of the car, but it was locked too. I’d forgotten my daughter Lauren had given Bo the keys to play with so he wouldn’t cry, and that little rascal, who loves to push buttons – both physically and emotionally, locked himself in.
“Oh my God!” I screamed in a panic. “How do I get him out of there?”
First, I looked for a large rock to break the window, but then realized I had my phone in my purse and could call 911. All of a sudden, as if guided by an angel, my thoughts went to my dear father. I remembered what he used to tell me each time I struggled in my life: “All you have to do is ask for help.”
Peeking into the window, I watched Bo’s sweet little face as he continued to beam as he played with the fob. I heard a click and grabbed the door handle, but it was still locked. It happened again, but no luck. He was stuck on that one button.
“Bo, push the other button, push the other button!” More clicks, but to no avail.
“Please Bo, push the other button.” Five minutes went by, and every time I heard the click,
I attempted to open the door. Breaking into a sweat while holding back my tears, I was just about to scream for help when I heard another click. I grabbed the handle one more time, and the miracle happened. He had finally pushed the right button (my grandson is a genius). Pulling him out of his car seat, I grabbed the keys, hid them in my purse, and said a prayer of gratitude liked I’d never done before while hugging him close.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, God!
For a moment, the world stopped spinning on her axis, and we were frozen in time as I nearly suffocated him with joy. Finally, I pulled myself together and we went on with our business, with me keeping one eye on him the entire time. I wasn’t about to let this child out of my sight.
Later that day, as I handed him over to his parents, I announced I need a glass of wine—despite the clock reading two in the afternoon. Then, I thought again about what my dad had said to me so many years ago and wondered why that lesson, out of all the things he taught me, I rarely took to heart. Maybe it was because of my conditioning to be independent. Maybe it was my Capricorn stubbornness, or perhaps because I’m always afraid of bothering people. Consequently, time and time again, I’ve muddled through my hard times alone, making everything so much harder than it had to be.
I spent nine years caring for my father, seven in his home and two in mine. My wonderful brothers came to visit when they could, but they lived far away, so 95% of the duty was mine. At first, it wasn’t so bad. But as the years evaporated one into the next, and he finally lived with me, I became not only exhausted, but isolated, and I suffered in silence—something many caregivers do.
Later, I’d go on to write a book about our time together, The Promise I Kept, and when asked by readers what I would have done differently, I grin before responding because the answer is so simple. I didn’t need more doctors telling me what to do or read more how-to books on the toughest job we may face in life. Instead, I would have asked friends to drop by for coffee or a glass of wine just to have life in the house once in a while. It would have been good for both my dad and me. Maybe them too.
I believe people are inherently kind and altruistic, but unless they know what to do or what is needed, it’s understandable they’d just go on with their lives. We’re all busy, and before we know it, the weeks turn into months and we haven’t connected with each other. Looking back on that time, I now see my friends would have loved to have stopped by. All they needed was an invitation.
Later that evening, as I rocked Bo to sleep and breathed in his innocence, I smiled with peace in my heart. We managed to get out of what could have been a horrible situation that day, and all because I asked him, a baby, to help me. Maybe it’s time I did the same with the grownups in my life.
When was the last time you sat in silence when you could have asked for help? Even small children are willing.