radical acts of safety

Safety: Winter Tires and now Stay-at-Home

As Husband brought me my morning coffee when he woke me up this morning, I remembered I had a 10:00 appointment today to get my winter tires put on my car.

Winter tires: To increase traction on the road to make myself and all who are in my car (which right now, are only immediate family members 🙂 ) safer.

I recalled how winter tires are a symbol of love in our lives.

It had been a difficult decade of being on my own with 2 Junior Tribe Members. Budgets were tight, and I had been determined to have our lives seem as normal as possible to our children. I continued music lessons and team sports for them, cutting areas of our budget in ways they wouldn’t notice to make things possible. My parents had pitched in with things like snowsuits and snowboots, and paid for their schooling–things that were beyond my reach. But I lived a decade holding my breath, hoping the month would run out before the money did.

Snow tires were a simply-out-of-the-question luxury in my life–as they remain for many people now. I drove carefully in winter on my all-seasons.

Single moms all over the world know how to keep costs down in ways that their children won’t notice, so as to be able to provide as normal life as possible for our kids in ways that they will notice.

The fall that Husband and I started dating, I was a single mom working 2 jobs. He, with a business that has definite seasonal patterns, was in a slow time. He is a natural helper and he offered to take my car in for its regular oil change, given that his schedule was so much more open than mine.

We traded vehicles and I went to work in his truck. I got home so we could trade vehicles. He came around the corner from where he was installing some shelves by my washer and dryer–truly a helpful guy, through and through. (Another one of those things that I couldn’t figure out how to do on my own, so it had remained undone for years. A single mom saves favor-asking for the men in her life for the the leaks and other problems that cannot wait! And now I had a man around that was itching for opporunities to help out!)

Husband reported had gotten the oil change done.

He looked sheepish and a little guilty, though. Husband has a terrible poker face–which is something I absolutely love about him. He started slowly:

“Can you promise not to be mad?”

Now, that’s always a line that comes before something substantial–and I did not know what was coming next. My heart started to race. Had he dented a fender? Had he been in a car accident with my car?

“I didn’t just get an oil change. Please don’t be mad. I also got you new winter tires.”

Husband and I had just barely started dating. What we had felt pretty special to both of us–but we had no way of knowing where this relationship was going to go. It was too early to know if this very special somethin-somethin’ we felt was fleeting or leading to something more permanent.

The relationships may not have yet been permanent. But the tires were. You can’t return tires. 🙂

I’m an independent type who hates the thought of accepting charity. I also like relationships to be pure–and lavish gifts can sometimes complicate things, creating pressure and obligation. My heart was in my throat, uncertain how to respond.

Husband then said this:

“I have no idea what is in our future. I get that we don’t even know if there will be a “we” in the future. There’s a chance you’ll become my wife–and if that’s the case, I want my future wife to be safe. Let me take care of you. If it ends up that we don’t spend our lives together, I want you to know that, no matter what, you are an incredibly special person. I want you to see yourself as valued and treasured and worthy of protection and safety.

There is no obligation or pressure with these tires. They are a gift. That’s all.

And I want you to know that not all guys are jerks.”


That last line, was said tongue in cheek. But he knew that would mean something to me.

Husband knew that I had been hurt, badly, by another. He knew that the wounds went deep and he represented his gender right proper that day.

Who knew that winter tires could be romantic?

Trust me–they were. In the coming days, I came to see that they were given freely and kindly–no obligation. An act of generosity that made a difference that winter as I drove from home to university to work and back again.

Those winter tires made such an impression, they actually made it into the wedding vows that Husband and I said to each other about 6 months later. One of the things I said in the service was:

You have created safety for me within our relationship, and I want to thank you for that….

A line from my marriage vows to Husband.

Husband still creates safety–and not only when he makes the appointment to get those winter tires back on, and loads them into the car for me to take to the appointment today. When I had an exceptionally heavy couple of days of video therapy this week, he made supper and sent me to put my feet up.

In these days of pandemic, Husband daily makes home a safe place. He asks me if he can get anything for me when we sit down to watch a show before bed. He took over arranging with the JTM’s when our family supper this week is–ZOOM visiting, here we come!

We’ve disagreed on how to handle pandemic precautions. For all the clarity officials provide, there still have often been times when we come out at different places in the interpretation. He hangs in there with me as we collaborate on an outcome on which we can both agree.

We have not at all seen eye to eye on many things this pandemic–but he always lets me know that at the end of the day, we are together. And from that grounded assumption, we move forward to then figure it out.

Those tires this morning remind me that though this is pandemic–not easy times–when we start from the assumption that we want to make other people’s lives safer, our lives are the richer for it.

The generosity these days is best expressed as we extend safety to others is distance and masks.

It’s an odd thing to best love my unborn grandchild by staying away from his parents.

But I want him to be safe. I want his parents–my kids–to be safe. And so we Zoom for family supper even though as a mother hen, I so want my chicks underneath my wings.

It’s an odd thing to facetime a friend whose husband is in the hospital. I want to hop in my car to go visit him. I want to sit vigil with her in her living room. And to keep them safe, I stay away.

Who are you offering safety to these days? Can I, on their behalf, thank you for the incredible gift of safety that you provide.

It shows them that you value and care for people. It demonstrates that you want to keep them safe–because they matter.

Your provision of safety shows them that not all people are jerks.

And trust me–that last one? It goes a loooong way, these days! 😉

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