Banana Seat Bandits
When I was young, though I am unsure how young, my parents bought me a Murray bicycle. It was the very best thing I had known in life until that time. While other kids on the block had a cool Huffy BMX, or some fancy 10-speed, what I rode around the neighborhood on was this Murray bicycle with coast brakes and a banana seat.
Not to say this bike did not have a lot of extras. I remember some of the best handlebar grips known to man (I was certain they were used during the lunar landing). Some plastic piece that served as a “gas tank”, reflectors on the front AND on the pedals. And best of all, what made me faster than any other thing on two wheels at the time, yellow stickers of lightning bolts on both sides. I knew I was fast, because there was an after market speedometer, as well.
One summer morning, I woke to find it gone. Panic set in, I ran in the house to the kitchen to find my mother, and explained I had left it in the yard and now it was nowhere to be found. Being the mother she was, she helped me look for my ride. All the while I had my suspects running through my mind. Jealousy. Someone had to be jealous and they took my bicycle. The police were called. A report was filed. All day I worried about what I was to do and how I could replace such a wonder of land-speed record breaking.
When my father pulled in the driveway from his day’s work, we rushed out to meet him. I went over the list I had made of possible suspects and my mother explained the process of how we were to claim the bike in the event it was recovered from an underground bicycle thieving ring of criminals. We talked about the possibilities of another kid taking the bike, where I had left the bike, and what I was going to do that summer without a way to get around. We talked until the sun fell over the woods in front of the house.
It was then that my father told me to go get my mom and come back down to the yard. Upon returning, he took a deep breath and said, “Come with me”.
He led us to what we called the “Wood Room” in the basement. He clicked on the light and there, in the middle of stacks of kindling, upright, and on a kickstand, was the orange Murray, in all of its plastic, rubber, and metal, glory. My dad was magic. My dad had spent the afternoon knife-fighting hoodlums and hooligans to retrieve my property. My dad risked his life to make sure I had a ride that summer.
Actually, my dad had hidden the bike in the Wood Room that morning because before coming into the house the night before, I left it behind his car. Just like the times before when he asked me to put it inside the garage. He did not scold me. He reminded me once more to make sure it was put up each evening and asked if I would like to ride a little before I went to bed. Pretty sure that was so that he and mom could have some time to speak about his not letting her know where the bicycle was during the police visit.
Funny thing, after spending the day worried, searching, and speculating, my first reaction was not anger towards my father, it was relief. I did not spend the time on that after hours ride grieving over the lost time riding that day. Somehow, the night air was sweeter, the tires sounded like music on the asphalt, and though it might be clouded by other memories, I am almost certain the speedometer reached the highest mark in the history of speedometers. Surely, I enjoyed that night ride more than I would have enjoyed riding that day not knowing what it was like to have lost the bike.
My life is like this today. The good things I am accustomed to, seem like they are deserved. The things I sometimes do without, seem like new blessings when they return. It is not for me to long for what I do not have. It is for me to be open to new blessings. Both in possessions and in joy, happiness, and peace.
The secret… shhh… is to be grateful always. Do not count your blessings. There is not enough time. And while you are busy taking a tally of what you have, you might miss what is being offered anew. But, be grateful for every thought, person, and gift, that crosses your mind, every beat of the heart that God saw fit to equip you with, and every breath that fills your lungs (even the one you forgot about until just now).
You are here because the force that created ladybugs, puppy dogs, and autumn leaves, and daisies, knows you have a purpose. I suspect, that purpose is to create in others smiles that might take years to form. Happy Sunday.