Late Spring 2006
Last week, I had Chinaberry's managers over to the house for a casual dinner party. An evening of good food, drink, and laughter eventually evolved into playing some board games. Close to midnight, folks began to leave. Sweaters and purses gathered, our guests bid goodnight and left for home -- except for Mary Jo and Dave. Mary Jo couldn't find her purse anywhere. Eventually she called her cell phone, hoping that the ringing would lead her to her purse, but all we heard was silence. Just to make sure they'd covered all the bases, they went out to their car to see if the purse was there.
They came back white as ghosts: the car was nowhere in sight. It had apparently been stolen. More importantly, her purse had been stolen from virtually under our game-playing noses, and now the burglar not only had Mary Jo and Dave's car, but her keys and purse and all that involves: credit cards, her address, prescription glasses, irreplaceable wallet photos, etc. Calls to report a stolen car, calls back from the police, a worried call to the babysitter telling her they'd be home soon and to deadbolt the doors -- it was not a fun ending to a good evening.
In retrospect, we figured that some very gutsy n'er-do-well had spotted a party, mosied up the sidewalk and into the patio on a hunch that someone may have left something of value outside. The burglar had made off with Mary Jo's purse, found her keys, clicked the remote and located the car. Before Mary Jo and Dave even knew their car was missing, someone had charged a tank of gas on a credit card in the purse and was long gone.
When finally home, they spent the better part of the night and the next day making the phone calls that are necessary when someone basically walks off with access to much of your personal life, changing locks on the house, etc.
Here's why I tell you this: While all this was happening, Mary Jo calmly and in an admirably upbeat way, explained that she believes that when you have a crisis, something good will come of it. She is thankful that her parents taught her that if a problem is one that can be remedied with money, it is not the end of the world, that everything will eventually be OK. It's those problems that no amount of money can fix that are the ones whose wounds are deep as chasms, soul-wrenching, ultimately and irrevocably life-changing. Mary Jo and Dave's young boys watched all of this, taking it in. They saw their parents coping without grumbling or cursing the burglar. In the following days, minus the car, everyone's schedules were thrown off, but what was continually affirmed was not what a pain this all was, but rather that sometimes things like this happen and what was most important is that they were safe and still had each other.
I don't wish a crisis on anyone, but this was a lesson more valuable than gold for their sons. And I do think Mary Jo's right: that when there's a crisis, something good can come of it -- especially if we keep things in perspective and remember what really is our greatest treasure -- our loved ones.