I meet Callum in town for coffee. He's anxious to discuss something with me.
“You know how Dad's always dreamed of having his own Commodore, a big car with lots of power? Well, I've found him one. It’s in good working order. The bodywork is not the best but I know how to fix that up. Dad always says as long as the engine is good...”
“I don’t know if we have spare money for a car at the moment,” I say.
“It’s good value, but if Dad hasn’t got enough money, I’ll pay for it. It doesn’t matter when he pays me back,” replies Callum, before adding, “Well, what do you think?”
I know nothing about cars so I reply, “Perhaps I’m the wrong person to talk to. Couldn’t you ask Dad’s opinion?”
“I really want to buy the car without Dad knowing. Imagine the look on his face when I say, ‘Dad, come outside. There’s a surprise waiting for you on the driveway.’” Callum’s eyes light up. “If I ask Dad first, he’ll only say there’s far more important things to buy than a car just for him.”
I know what Callum means. Andy would love to cruise along the freeway in a big powerful car, but he’d never buy one for himself. He is a man with family responsibilities, not a young man who can afford to indulge his dreams. “I’m just not sure what to suggest,” I say.
“What if I take Dad to see the car, and if he likes it, I could return later and buy it for him?”
So plans are made. I leave Callum and continue my shopping. My middle son heads home to collect Andy to take him car viewing. We meet up again a couple of hours later.
“So how did it go?” I ask.
“Dad likes the car but he doesn’t think buying it is a priority,” Callum replies.
I forget about Callum’s plan to secretly return and buy the vehicle. Instead I try the direct approach: “You’d enjoy having the car,” I say to Andy. “You and Callum could work on it together.”
“I don’t know. I don’t really need a new car,” he says.
It doesn’t look like Callum will be able to arrange a dream for Andy after all. His face falls and Andy notices, so he says, “I’ll think about it.” But we all know that probably means no car.
I understand Callum’s disappointment. I want Andy to have the car too. He is always putting himself second. I do some quick talking: “The car will be perfect for driving along the freeway to work. And Imogen could have your old car.” Finally he agrees to go and have a second look at the vehicle. Callum is smiling again as he and Andy leave the house once more.
An hour or so later, the men are back. “So how did it go?” I ask. Andy doesn’t look like a man who owns a dream car. Callum doesn’t look like a son who’s arranged a dream.
“Someone else bought the car,” says Callum, coming through the door and kicking off his boots.
“That was quick! It was only a couple of hours ago you saw it for the first time.”
So the dream has disappeared. Callum looks very disappointed, but Andy says, “It wasn’t meant to be. Something else will turn up.”
“Keep looking,” I suggest. Callum nods briefly before plodding off to his room.
Later, Andy and I are chatting in the living room when Callum comes in. “Move over,” he says, sitting down on the sofa between us. He puts an arm around each of us and we have a big parent-son hug.
“I’m sorry about the car,” I say. I feel bad. I should have let Callum go and buy it without Andy knowing.
“It doesn’t matter, Mum.”
“Dad must feel very loved,” I observe. Andy agrees. “How many sons would want to arrange such a surprise for their fathers? You’re a good son. Actually you’re very much like Dad.” I look from my son to my husband. There is no doubt they are alike.
“I married the best man in the world,” I say. “I guess if you’re just like Dad, you must be pretty special yourself.” Callum grins as I add, “I love you very much.”
We smile. We hug. It’s a special moment. There is no dream car sitting on our driveway but that doesn’t matter. Andy feels as loved as if there were.
Yesterday, Callum let Andy drive his own dream car, the Green Giant. When they returned home, Andy said, “Wow! It’s huge, twice as big as my car!” His eyes were glowing, his voice excited.
“Wait until you get your own dream car, Dad,” said Callum, equally excited. “I’ll find you another car…”
One day Callum will find the perfect car.
One day Andy will discover it waiting for him on the driveway.
The dream car dream is once more very much alive.