Tag Archives: Driving across Mexico


POSTED: July 1, 2024

In my last post I mentioned my annual calls to some moms that I don’t speak to much of the year, but use the Mothers Day trigger to call or email them and have a little update chat with. Sometimes with busy schedules it takes a while to connect and this week I had a wonderful conversation with an old friend from Canada. Beyond the usual updates of what has happened since our last conversation she told me this spring and summer she has been working on putting in a rose garden at her very nice back yard.

That back garden is in a very upscale neighbourhood and is of a fairly significant size for a major city, but the part of our conversation that was significant is that it was a rose garden. You see many years before (well almost two decades actually) she had ripped out the award-winning rose garden that was there when they bought the house. It had some very noteworthy varieties which she donated to the local garden club.

I never understood exactly why this dramatic removal had occurred, and thought it related to having more space for the kids to play, allergies, or the thorns around their active kids.

Well as it turns out it was none of those things. The big rip-out occurred because of an event involving a single rose. At the funeral of her husband’s dad, her sister-in-law created a lot of drama by giving out roses to people at the graveside ceremony but made an even bigger thing of the roses only going to blood relatives, so my friends husband and children received roses but not her. It was a bit strange but not life changing to not be included but it was a reflection of how her sister-in-law viewed her – some level of outsider, who would never be part of the family. It hurt at the time but as the months past and then the seasons as well,  she could not walk by the rose garden without those emotions bubbling up. With it in her backyard within sight of a large window overlooking it, this was an ongoing irritant, so she had decided to take it out and for several years her husband knew to not bring roses for Valentines Day or bring home a bouquet with even one rose in it.

But with time, and some events that involved that sister-in-law which illustrated her insecurities and nuances of her mental health, my friend started to be ready to take back her relationship with roses. She never had a relationship with her sister-in-law again but after a lot of years was now ready to have roses in her garden and contacted the local garden club who were more than pleased to give her cuttings from her original plants.

I have seen a lot of different examples of things that become symbols or a type of short form icons for events that have happened in families. Some are good, some, like this rose story, not so much.

A buddy and his family were traveling to Mexico for a vacation and one of his teenage daughters as a responsible young woman wanted to hold onto her own boarding pass. Shortly after going through security, she managed to misplace it and could not track it down for the gate. The protocols for missing boarding passes apparently are extensive, particularly once you have passed security, so the airline staff could not just print off another one and she was going to miss the flight. So her dad, did what dads do, and stayed back with her, bought two new expensive tickets on the only flight going in a short period of time to Mexico and he and his daughter flew to the “other” coast of Mexico on that flight, then rented a car and drove across the country to be with the rest of the family. The cost was huge, the time significant, and the frustration of similar magnitude. It is also not a recommended drive as there are many risks.

The teenage daughter went on to be a very disciplined and skilled professional, but ever since, when a member of that family is issued a boarding pass, their minds are instantly taken back to that experience.

When I was in high school, I loved cars and worked on them whenever I could. I was only mediocre at any of the mechanical stuff but developed some proficiency at body work. One summer I had taken over my parent’s small garage at the back of their house to work on a relatives little Honda S600. Now the S600 was a two-seater roadster that was very small and was Hondas first real outing to make something fun. It was powered by a 600cc motorcycle engine and had chain drive, not a conventional transmission, so was very much an evolution of their success in the motorcycle world. Even at that time, which was the early 1970’s this car from the sixties, while modest in scale and power was a bit of a collector car and I was tasked with doing some body work in preparation for it being repainted. It was not uncommon for friends to drop over and watch what I was doing and generally hang around. One day when I was packing up for the day a buddy, Myles asked if he could drive it into the garage and I said that would be fine but also commented that I didn’t think he had experience driving a standard transmission. The response was a classic “Oh sure, I can drive a stick”. Well, you know where this story is going. He had never driven a standard and smashed the car into the garage, creating about two weeks of work for me to correct. Ever since then for most of us in my backyard that afternoon, the statement “Oh sure, I can ___________” became the short form for wild exaggeration of your own skills.

A friends son one night was rummaging around in their chest freezer for a frozen pizza and was successful in his search, but in so doing forgot to put back the large collection of frozen lobster tails and shrimp he had taken out on his quest, that was waiting for a big family get together. The family still enjoys shellfish but the residue of that experience occasionally surfaces.

One that really resonated with me was a friend whose sister was almost a decade older than him and would love to pull out his report cards at Christmas dinner and read the terrible remarks about her younger brother from his teachers. Obviously, there was some nasty bit of psychology going on there. He is now estranged from her.

Everyone who has heard this story of course reels in shock but most people I know who are familiar with this story also now put report cards in a different category of significance. Yes they are a measure, but at a limited point in time, and the significance of the comments and the marks need to be considered with some level of respect and decorum as the after effect, if not managed properly have greater impact than the marks themselves.

And I think that is the point of my little ramble today – these experiences with friends or family that become short forms for specific activities or memories can be pulled up as mean-spirited triggers or thought of more fondly as bonds in our memories. We are all wired to try to make sense of bits of information put in front of us, and often these short forms capture that, much as a happy face emoji or thumbs up does. As I age I am trying to also reflect on what the memory would have been for each of the participants at the event not just my emotions at the time. I don’t know if that sister-in-law today would just hand out roses to everyone at the graveside for example.

And I do like the idea of my friend taking back the rose garden.