Delayed Gratification Is A Sign Of Maturity


I am probably pushing the envelope on my luck. My daughter and her husband prefer to keep a low profile. It’s not that they are purposefully secretive or trying to hide anything, but they certainly don’t fall into the category of “if you’ve got it, flaunt it”. In many respects they live simply. They both work long hours and when they are not working, they prefer to be home. As a rule of thumb they are both frugal. Whatever activities they may plan for leisure generally include their two labs. They are doting pet owners. (I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that doting pet owners/frugal is an oxymoron.) Perhaps I should say, apart from the dogs they are frugal. They integrate the things they value most in their lives and generally don’t opt to color outside the lines.

The General (aka – my wife) and I have the good fortune of sharing time with them often. As a rule of thumb, the four of us share Sunday dinner together. However, we are not an enmeshed family. They have a very full life apart from us and we likewise are very busy and engaged with others.

It may surprise you, but at times I may have a tendency to offer unsolicited advice. After all, wasn’t “Father Knows Best” popular in our childhood? Without fail, every time I take that approach Andrea calls my hand on it. Whatever question I’ve asked or opinion I’ve expressed, Andrea’s automatic default response is, “I hope you’re as engaging in the details of Craig and Becky’s life as you are ours.” That generally leaves both of us smiling and ends whatever conversation or advice I wanted to share. She is really good at her game. She didn’t have to take assertive training classes during her childhood, she simply watched the General at work and adapted the same approach.

The only time I’ve knowingly overstepped boundaries was shortly after Andrea and Kevin’s marriage nine years ago. Actually, I think the dialogue was between Andrea and I, but I’m sure she communicated it to Kevin. Andrea had been in a car accident and totaled her two-year old vehicle. I made the assumption they would purchase a new car.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking smart people don’t buy new cars. They buy one a couple of years old and avoid all the depreciation. The first car the General and I purchased together reportedly was a “demonstrator” from a car dealer. I think it had 3,000 miles on it. When all the title related documents came back, they reflected the car had been previously purchased by a car rental agency nine months before. Somehow that just put a sour taste in my mouth. Since that time, I’ve never bought a used car unless it was an “extra” and secondary to my need for dependable transportation.

Being a supportive father and father-in-law, I offered to go car shopping with Andrea and Kevin. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that they didn’t need my help. They didn’t say that, but they didn’t invite me to go with them either.

So what did they buy? They bought a Nissan Murano. It was two or three years old, in mint condition, had all the bells and whistles and only had 60,000 miles. I didn’t ask the cost, but Andrea volunteered the information. “Dad we got a really good deal. It only cost $….”.  I’m still hoping that my gasp wasn’t audible, but they could have bought a new car without the frills for about the same price. The new car would have been under warranty. The, “I’m really happy for you,” that came from my lips probably didn’t sound sincere (I guess you could file that away as a white lie).

That was about the time I discovered I needed blood pressure medication. What were they thinking? It was abundantly clear to me that the car had been salvaged from a Houston flood and would be anything other than dependable, stable transportation. Of course, I know nothing about automobiles. It was just a worst-case possible scenario. For some reason that seemed like a rational conclusion.

In the years that followed, do you have any idea how many times I bit my tongue and didn’t say, “If you had followed by advice…?” Actually, I’m smarter than that. I have carefully voided that phrase. I waited about four years and when the vehicle was in the automotive repair shop (chronic issue related to “check engine” light being illuminated for the thousandth time), I simply said, “I’m hopeful you’ll opt for a new car with warranty next time.”

In the preceding nine years, never once have I heard either Kevin or Andrea say they wish they had a new car. From time to time, they’d say, “Car repairs are still better than car payments.” Actually, that made me proud. I couldn’t agree more (Well, up to a point).

Today Andrea and Kevin had other plans for after church, so we didn’t share lunch. Mid-afternoon, Andrea telephoned and asked if they could stop by for a visit. I don’t know why they always call before they come over unless it is simply to role model what they expect from us if we are headed their way. For the record, we always call first.

Barnabas announced their arrival before they made it to the front door. I walked outside and couldn’t believe my eyes. Wow! They were in a new car. It was a dark metallic blue 2015 Audi crossover. Both smiled when they told me it was new. It only had seven miles on it when they picked it up. Kevin also said, “Don, You’ll be glad to know it has a 50,000 mile warranty)

One of defining characteristics of Andrea is her willingness to wait to get what she wants. After looking at the color options, she wanted the dark metallic blue. Unfortunately, the only choices available were white, black, grey and another shade of blue. Consequently, she opted to order the car and wait. She had a good point. If you only buy a car every nine years or so, you might as well get what you want.

I was a little surprised when Andrea and Kevin said they placed the order for the car in November. Reportedly, they anticipated it would take three months, not five. They also picked the car up from the dealer a week ago. That being said, the General and I are the first to know. Because of the rain this past week, Andrea opted not to drive the car to work. Like I said, they are private people. I doubt that they mention the new car to anyone. I guess that is an extra advantage of reading my blog. I tell everything I know.

All My Best!



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