Money: Special Needs Couple Makes A Dream A Reality
Thirty-eight days ago, the newlyweds came to our house for a summer barbecue. John cooked burgers on the Traeger wood pellet grill. Cedar smoke puffed from the exhaust, filling the back yard with an enticing aroma that made my stomach growl. Lindsey (33), Nick (35), and I stood near the grill, breathing deeply, chatting about their upcoming one-year anniversary. John opened the grill’s black lid and slipped four slices of American cheese on the hot patties. The burgers sizzled.
“We wanna go back to the Ory-gun Garden,” Lindsey said, waving her arms in the air. She looked like a baby bird struggling to fly. “You know, Mom. The same place you and Dad gave us for our honeymoon,” my daughter added, like I might have forgotten where they’d stayed.
Last October, John and I had purchased a package from the Oregon Garden Resort that included a king-size room, two dinner entrees, a bottle of house wine or sparkling cider, and breakfast. Lindsey described the bed and how it was so comfortable that the next morning they’d slept later than planned.
“We almost missed the free breakfast,” Lindsey said, shaking her head. Her short, dark curls bobbed to the beat of her shakes.
Lindsey and Nick talked about the steaks they selected off the resort’s menu, how they picked French fries instead of baked potatoes, how the room came with a gas fireplace and a huge bed--a recounting we’d heard many times since their honeymoon. “We almost got lost in that thing,” Lindsey said, referring to the king-size bed. Her blueberry eyes darted right, then left like she was searching for the correct words in her head. She waved her arms in the air some more, changing subjects, explaining that they’d ordered sparkling cider but the waiter brought them red wine instead.
Pinot Noir,” Nick said, his blue eyes widened. He did a better job of pronouncing pinot noir than I did. “And it was tasty, too.” Nick smacked his lips together, brushing a loose strand of blonde hair from his face. The newlyweds giggled, obviously sharing a secret between themselves. I raised my eyebrows. Lindsey didn’t generally drink alcoholic beverages because of her medications. But they seemed happy with the waiter’s mix-up, so I chuckled along with them. My heart swelled. I wanted Lindsey and Nick to have a memorable first anniversary celebration. And at that moment, I wanted to book them a room in honor of this achievement.
But then I remembered.
They both had been rather careless with money recently (Lindsey more than Nick)--buying two identical DVDs at the video store, “Just in case we lose one,” Lindsey explained when she saw my confused expression. “We do it for all our movies.” Her clarification wasn’t helping ease my concerns. They had at least three bookcases filled with VHSs, DVDs and CDs. Two of every single movie? Was that necessary? Lindsey thought so. Nick shrugged.
“We buy lots of video games too,” Nick added, telling me they had at least thirteen additional used movies and games on hold at the video store.
Since their wedding day, Lindsey hadn’t been as obsessed with buying papers, pencils, pens, and stickers as she had in the past. But if she had a dollar in her Hello Kitty backpack, she acted like the money was a pile of hot coals; she must spend it, get it out of her hands as quick as she could. She’d buy a bottle of shampoo (although she already has five different brands in the cupboard), or she’d spend it on an unnecessary kitchen gadget (I say unnecessary because Lindsey and Nick do not cook all that often), or on a new toy for the kittens, or on twelve Dora The Explorer coloring books at the Dollar Store. And then there was the recent stop at Artic Circle. Lindsey crammed her last seven-dollar bills in a front denim pocket (leaving her with no spending money for the next thirteen days). She scanned the menu board to find an item that cost exactly the amount she had pulled from her pocket and scrunched in a tight fist. Lindsey ended up not liking her selection and tossed most of the meal in the nearest garbage can.
Nick bragged about hoarding his allowance. He pulled out several folded greenbacks from his wallet. “This is my spending money,” Nick said, a smirk on his long face. “I don’t have to share. I keep some for later.” Nick flicked a fingernail against the bills. “But Lindsey spends hers faster than a rocket heading into outer space,” he added. Despite an attempt to hold my lips in a straight line, they curled into a grin.