There are five cars parked on our driveway. Two of them belong to Callum. You’d think two cars would be more than enough vehicles for one young man, but Callum has plans to buy a third. Cars are his passion.
Andy sighs and says, “Callum spends all his time and money on cars.”
I say, “He’s young. He has passions. He has a dream.”
“I was young once,” says Andy. “I used to want a dream car too. But I never got one.”
“You got me,” I say. “You got married and had a family instead.”
Andy smiles and stretches out his arm. “I’d rather have you than a car.” He hugs me close.
But somewhere, hidden deep beneath his gratitude for his family, Andy still has a dream. It’s not a huge dream like Callum’s. He would just love a bigger, newer, more powerful car that would fly along the freeway, swallowing up all the hills between home and work. His present car is small and sensible and fuel-efficient. And it grumbles like an old man when it comes face-to-face with a bump in the road. It's not very exciting at all.
Callum invites Andy to take one of his cars for a drive, his huge classic Holden Kingswood, his Green Giant. He notices Andy's eyes light up with excitement. He listens when he says, "“Wow! It’s huge, twice as big as my car!” He knows Andy has car dreams too. And Callum knows exactly what dream car he would really love.
Of course, Andy doesn’t want such an ancient fuel-guzzling monster like the Green Giant. He dreams about something a bit newer... less of a classic-from-days-gone-by car, and more of an exciting but reliable right-now car. And Callum has plans to make his dad's dream a reality. He’s just waiting for the right moment, the right opportunity.
Then Andy hears our next-door-neighbour, John, is selling his car. It’s a Holden Commodore, it’s big, and although it's a few years old, it’s practically new compared to all the ancient vehicles sitting on our driveway. Best of all, it’s a mechanic’s car. It's in excellent condition. Andy says, “Callum, if you're set on buying another car, that one would be perfect for you. You need a reliable car to get to work in. You wouldn't have to worry every time something goes wrong with the other ones.” Andy is right. Callum's cars might be classics but usually they are classics-in-pieces, awaiting restoration.
But Callum is thinking John's car would be the perfect dream car for Andy. “What do you think, Mum? Perhaps I could pretend to buy the car for myself, and then we could give it to Dad. Think of the look on his face when I say, 'Dad, this car's yours'!” We both smile as we imagine that very special moment.
So Andy and Callum arrange to take the car for a test drive. Callum sits in the driver’s seat and he smiles for the whole trip. “Wow! This is the best car I’ve ever driven. Feel that power.”
Andy nods. Could he be feeling just a little envious? He wishes he was in a position to buy such a car. He dreams a little and then tells himself not to be so silly. He thinks it would be extravagant spending money on another car, when he already has a vehicle. Yes, he's not going to allow himself to feel disappointed. He's very happy for Callum.
Callum negotiates with John and soon they have struck a deal. John will make sure the car's in tip-top condition, and it will be ready for sale in a few days’ time.
“Wow! The car was wonderful, Mum,” says Callum later.
“It sounds like you’d like to have it,” I observe. “Have you changed your mind about giving it to Dad?”
“Well…” he mutters.
I can understand a young man’s yearnings for a car, so I say, “Think about it. If you want it, have it. We’ll find another one for Dad.”
But a day or so later, Callum tells me he wants Andy to have the car. “It’s just perfect for him. I can make do with my own cars. Dad will help me fix them. No, this is his car.”
Callum tells John the car will be Andy’s but he’s to keep that fact a secret. He wants the car to be a big surprise.
All week we wait while John gets the car ready. At regular intervals, Andy says, “I bet you’re impatient to get your new car, Callum,” and Callum replies, “Oh yes!” trying not to smile too much as he thinks about his delicious secret.
The day arrives. Callum and I have already arranged payment for the car. Andy and I take the girls out for the morning, and when we return, the car is waiting on the driveway. It’s white and big and powerful, and it looks good!
“Do you want some coffee, Dad?” asks Callum, as we enter the house. He tries not to smile too much. He tries to sound cool, as if this is just another ordinary day. Soon we are all sitting in the family room with coffee mugs in our hands.
“As I’ve just got a new car, Dad, I thought I’d get a little present for you too.” Callum hands over an envelope, which Andy tears open.
“A key?” Andy is bemused.
“Yes. A key to your new car.”
Andy is dumbfounded, lost for words. “You mean… a car…? John's car? Mine… ?”
Callum, the girls and I smile. We were all in on the secret. The only person who had no idea what was going on was Andy.
“Aren't you going to have a look at your new car?” we ask. So we all troop outside and Andy does lots of oohing and aaahing. He says, “Really? The car’s mine?” a few times, while we all continue to grin. It’s a magic moment.
“So I was the only one who didn’t realise what was going on?” asks Andy later.
We nod. “Everybody knew except you, Dad. John even told all his work mates about the young man next door who was buying a car for his dad.”
Of course Andy has to take the car out immediately for a drive. He wants me to come along too. He turns the key in the ignition and the engine roars into life. “Listen to that! Doesn’t that sound good?” Soon we are sailing through the cutting out of the village. Andy needs petrol, but he drives right past the local service station, at the bottom of the hill, and heads towards town. He's having fun.
For the past week, Andy has been flying along the freeway each morning to school. At the end of the day, he touches his toe to the pedal and his dream car shoots up the hills, back towards home. And Andy grins. He grins a lot. There is something really special about receiving an unexpected gift.
“Callum must love you very much,” I observe to Andy. “How many sons would arrange such a surprise for their dads?”
Fathers, sons and cars… what could be better than fathers and sons sharing a passion and a dream? Unless of course, it’s fathers and sons sharing love.
Fathers, sons, cars and LOVE. That's not a dream. It's reality.
Without intending to, I seem to have written a dream car trilogy. Here are the first two parts if you'd like to share them: