My heart skipped a beat at the unexpected sound. Had something hit the window? A bird, maybe? No, not a bird. A mirror. The driver’s side mirror to be exact. It had popped loose from its frame and had swung by its wire up to the window, giving it a loud smack. Thump. Thump. Thump. It bounced off the door as I rattled down the washboard road. I could hear my oldest daughter’s voice, although she wasn’t in the truck with me yet. “Mom, someone needs to fix this road!” They sure did. But it still served its purpose. Busted, not broken. Unlike the mirror, which hung like a eyeball from a socket, unable to see. But it wasn’t the bumpy road that caused the mirror to come loose. It was a trampoline.
That’s right. Just last week a wicked wind storm picked our trampoline up a la Dorothy’s house and flung it a half mile away into the neighbor’s field. But not before it cracked part of our siding and smacked the side of my husband’s Chevy. As I noticed the already existent hairline fracture snaking it’s way across the windshield, I couldn’t help but smile as the old Aaron Tippin tune rolled through my head, “But there ain’t nothin wrong with the raaeedio.” (That’s the twang spelling.) Well, as a matter of fact there WAS something wrong with the radio, I noticed as I tried in vain to find a good station. The trampoline had taken out the antennae, too. Round and round the dial it went, only landing on two solid signals. One oldies, the other soft rock. Oldies it was. Busted, not broken.
I was later than normal picking up my daughter from preschool. I’d had to wait for my husband to get home, so he could stay with our youngest. Poor thing has had a rough few days. First, she had a fever, a nasty cough and complained of lower back and leg pain. Doc said it was a UTI and started her on antibiotics. But my mommy instinct told me it was more. I just knew there was something else wrong, but for once, I’d decided not to push for more tests. Stupid. I’d let my fear about more medical bills outweigh my momsense (yes, that’s a word). Sure enough, by the next evening, she was miserable. High fever, red cheeks, glossy eyes, no appetite, and even more complaints about her legs aching. We rode it out that night, but by this morning, her lips were blue and cold. To the city doctor we went. X-rays were taken. Pneumonia. On top of the UTI. No wonder she felt like total crap. And so did I. The mom guilt came on full force. But I had to let it go. She was busted, not broken.
As I pulled into the preschool driveway, I could see my daughter’s sweet face in the window. The last kid. Her least favorite thing to be. But she waved giddily when she saw me, not wondering why I was driving daddy’s truck or why the side mirror was hanging down. Someday, it will be a different story. She’ll recoil in embarrassment when her parents dare show up in their beater vehicles to pick her up. At least I did. I still remember the time I asked my mom to drop me off a block away from my friends in her old Ford LTD Crown Vic, with the rusted out body and sagging roof lining, motor sounding like a tractor on its last go round the field. But my attempts to arrive incognito were foiled when the hubcap popped off, and rolled down the block right in front of that group of friends. It’s funny now. Soul crushing then. I now understand why my parents didn’t care much about the vehicle that got them from point A to B. It was busted, not broken.
“You want to ride to Wellington with me? To get pellets?” You would have thought I’d asked her to go to Disney World (almost). “Yay! Just me and you?” Off we rode to the county seat to stock up on wood pellets before the next cold front hit. Only, we couldn’t leave town just yet. That mirror banging on the door wasn’t only annoying, it was causing further damage. So I did what every good redneck does. Found some duct tape. I’m glad to have a sister and brother-in-law who don’t mind when I pop in and ask for such strange requests. Mirror secured, we cranked up the only good station, and be-bopped down the road to School Day by Bobby Vee. “Mom, look at me!” My daughter showed me her jive moves in the backseat. My mind wandered to my dad, who raised me on songs just like these. He would be happy here with us now. I miss him. My heart has taken a beating these past few months. Loss after loss. Setback after setback. Illness after illness. But I am busted, not broken.
The fireball sun sank into the soft pink and purple horizon, and I let myself feel every emotion.