Mom was sitting at the kitchen table, sewing a patch onto a pair of blue jeans.

I pulled out an empty chair and took a deep breath.

“Mom, I need to tell you something …”

It was love at first sight, a red and white Schwinn with chrome fenders and a little silver bell.

“29 dollars,” the man at the bicycle shop said, and Dad pulled out his wallet.

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“Enjoy your new bike,” the bicycle man said. I just nodded, because my smile made it hard to talk.

Dad loaded the little bike into the trunk of the car. I offered to ride it home, but he reminded me that home was 10 miles away, and I was 7 years old.

'“29 dollars is a lot of money!” I said, prattling with excitement on the car ride home.

“It is,” Mom said. “But we don’t need to tell anyone how much it cost.”

The bike was barely out of the trunk before I did. One of the neighborhood kids spent 10 minutes admiring the shiny fenders and the little bell and the streamers hanging from the handle bars, and it just kind of … came out: “I’m not supposed to tell anybody,” I said in a conspiratorial whisper. “But it cost 29 dollars.”

“DAN’S BIKE COST 29 DOLLARS!” he shouted, and an icy knot formed in the pit of my stomach. I looked around frantically to make sure Mom and Dad weren’t listening.

“Don’t!” I said. “I wasn’t supposed to …”

“DAN’S BIKE COST 29 DOLLARS!!” he yelled even louder.

I’d only ridden twice around the block, but I pushed the bike up the driveway and leaned it against the side of the house. From down the street: “DAN’S BIKE COST … !”

For two weeks I heard those cursed words a dozen times a day, usually as a shout that seemed to echo off into the distance. I was miserable. After a week I stopped riding my new bike.

Until I found Mom patching blue jeans at the kitchen table.

“Mom, I need to tell you something …”

She smiled like she already knew the story, and was grateful to be hearing it from me.

“I’m really sorry,” I said when I had finished.

“I want you to think about what we asked, and what you did,” she said. “And how it made you feel.”

“It made me feel terrible.”


“I didn’t want you to be mad,” I said. Perhaps more importantly: “ … or disappointed.”

“I think you should go ride your bike,” she said

I kissed her on the cheek, and rode so fast it felt like I was flying. The only thing I heard was the wind.

Few things can give you wings like forgiveness … and a new bike.

Dan Conradt, a lifelong Mower County resident, lives in Austin with his wife, Carla Johnson.