Nothing lasts forever, the saying goes. No matter the price tag or quality, everything eventually breaks down and falls apart. That’s pretty disappointing news when you don’t have money to spare.
For me, every purchase that my family makes is a big deal, and it better last a long time because we don’t have enough money in the piggy bank to replace valuables at will.
Fortunately, not all valuables bite the dust. There is one extremely valuable treasure in life that can and will last—love.
Love is made of different stuff. It evolves and endures. And that’s the kind of valuable that is truly worth investing in. A recent sequence of unfortunate events in my family helped remind me of this.
It started with the TV remote. It was missing, as usual. And when my five-year-old son decided to turn on the TV the old fashion way, things went south in a hurry. Our TV had been sitting on top of the fireplace mantle for more than a year. But when my son pulled on the mantel to reach up to the power button, the mantle came off the wall, and both it and the TV landed on his head.
Somehow, the TV survived. It did have a couple of rainbow streaks running top to bottom on the screen, but was still viewable. The mantle had a few chunks taken out of it, and the wireless internet device that was connected to the TV bit the dust.
But none of that mattered in light of my son being involved in the accident. All I wanted to know was, Are you okay?
When my husband, Victor, got home, that’s all he wanted to know too. Televisions can be replaced, but our Alexander cannot. Miraculously, he only had a knot on his head that was gone the next day. But as fate would have it, the TV only lasted one day longer too. A big coastal storm came across the bay and lightning hit our living room. It fried what was left of our poor television.
Ouch. That was disappointing. Especially because these things are not cheap. We cannot just go out and replace them. It will take some time to save up and buy new equipment. But again, anyone in my family could have been sitting in the living room that night and been hit by the lightning. At the end of the day, our loved ones were all that mattered.
The very next day, another storm brought lots of wind. My sister-in-law was flying in for a visit, and I had prepared the back porch for a nice lunch outside with her. I put out the big sun umbrella which fit in the middle of the glass patio table. I went to the store and sighed as the lights in Walmart began to flicker. I knew a big storm must have blown in and, yup, I left the patio umbrella up.
Sure enough, when I got home, the table was shattered in a million pieces and the umbrella stood alone in the middle of the porch, the unashamed culprit. Okay, so I was a little more than annoyed at this point. Victor and I work really hard to provide for our family. When we buy something, we really try to take good care of it so that it will last. When I called Victor and told him about the table, he asked, “Did anybody get cut?” The table wasn’t his concern. He just wanted to know that the boys and I were safe.
The next day was uneventful. And the next. And the next! Whew, was our black cloud finally passing? Well, if it did, some sadistic wind blew it right back at us. The weekend had come and we were off to the river to do some fishing. I pulled the boat out of the shed with the truck, and wouldn’t you know that the gate to our chain link fence jumped right out in front of me. Yeah, I creamed it. Flat as a pancake.
We could only laugh at this point. And the next morning when I went grocery shopping, that same evil wind blew my cart into the side of the truck as I unloaded my bags. A nice big scratch now decorates the driver’s side door.
Oh me. I get annoyed when we scrimp and save to get something nice, and then some careless mistake—sometimes mine—claims it as fodder.
Sure, it’s frustrating when we work so hard to finally buy something nice and occasionally new, and then we lose it. And it can be hard not to lose it at each other over the disappointment of losing something we like and the prospect of putting the funds together for a replacement, especially if the incident could have been avoided.
But in our family, we have come to realize that our stuff is only temporary. We know it’s just stuff. We’ll take care of it as best we can while we have it, but no matter how careful we are, one day these things will break. And unlike the things we’ve broken, our relationships with each other are not so easily replaced or restored.
All of this material loss has led me to re-commit to my family. It has reminded me that what matters most is that my husband and our children are happy, healthy, safe, and loved. I want to invest more in my relationships with them, because these are the things that will last.