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The desire to help one’s child is instinctive, regardless of age or circumstances.

My daughter, who was nearing 30, was recruited to San Francisco for a great career opportunity three years ago. She and her husband packed up their two cats and personal belongings, and her aging car, which had long since crossed the 200,000-mile threshold, and headed to the city by the bay.

Relocating to one of the most expensive cities in the country was culture shock. Burdened with heavy graduate school debt, moving expenses, exorbitant rent, medical expenses for a diabetic cat and life support for an ailing car, finances became a delicate juggling act.

Mom to the rescue!

My ever-willing husband and I hatched a relief plan. I would buy a new car, and foregoing a trade-in, we would donate my old one to my daughter to replace her rapidly failing vehicle. Getting the vehicle from Buffalo to San Francisco required logistical planning that only a desperate mother could concoct. We needed a vacation, I concluded; so, why not take a road trip to Las Vegas? Once there, we could fly in my daughter and her hubby for a weekend visit, take in the sights, and then send them home in their newly acquired vehicle, a 2004 Lexus that had been pampered, overhauled, given new brakes and tires and been declared road worthy for at least another 100,000 miles.

The trip was somewhat daunting, but armed with snacks, CDs and a GPS, we headed west just after Labor Day. After an educational cross-country trip through cornfields, plains, mountains and desert, we arrived, a bit travel weary, to be dazzled by the sea of neon that was unmistakably Las Vegas. We relaxed by the hotel pool before heading down the Strip in search of dinner and a little nightlife.

The next morning, we met our young vehicular heirs at the airport, and after a hearty breakfast buffet, filled our day with shopping, poolside fun, a little casino exploration and a wonderful dinner downtown. We were awed by the aquatic brilliance of “O,” the Cirque show at the extravagant Bellagio Hotel. The next day, at an early morning rendezvous, we turned over paperwork, keys and car, waving goodbye to the proud new owners as they headed home to San Francisco.

Mission accomplished. I was ecstatic that my rescue plan had been executed without a hitch. With the hand-off behind us, my husband and I spent another day taking a bus excursion to the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. There was plenty of time to relive our adventure on the flight back to Buffalo.

The weeks that followed brought many phone calls from my daughter thanking us for our generosity, and extolling the advantages and conveniences of her wonderful replacement vehicle. She was delighted with the luxury, and more pragmatically, impressed with the smooth ride and the solid feel of safety that she enjoyed during her daily commute. I was content that I had done well by my daughter – until I was reminded that no good deed goes unpunished.

The call that all parents dread came on a Tuesday night in January. The tearful voice at the other end of the phone was my daughter. Details were limited, as the EMTs were loading her into an ambulance. “I’m not hurt – just a little whiplash and a few bruises,” she reported bravely, “but the car is totaled. Another driver ran a stop sign, and ...”

The rest, as they say, is history. I am indescribably grateful that my daughter was not seriously hurt. Sure, my plan was for that car to keep them free of car worries for a year or two, until they could get on their feet. Apparently God had other plans ... ones that included a hand-me-down Lexus for only a few brief months.

But from where I sit, at the moment of impact, that car, with its solid build and safety features, kept my daughter safe as it met its own untimely demise.

Thankfully, I still consider my mission accomplished.