Why a Matchbox Car Makes me Cry… an anecdote… a memory

This short story is a memory I’m sharing of my son, Andy at the age of 4. It involves a matchbox car, which now sits on my bedroom dresser, and when I hold it, it still brings a tear to my eye. I will treasure that little car, always.

The Story

When my son Andy was 3 years old, his father left the both of us to go overseas, marry another woman and travel, leaving me to raise Andy alone for an entire year with no money, and no family support.

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When Andy’s father Tom finally returned, I had to face him, face his new wife and come to terms with the reality of having been betrayed, financially abused and heartbroken. This was undoubtedly the hardest time of my life. I also had to keep it together for the sake of my son. I had to build a new life.

Shortly after Tom returned, it was my birthday. While Tom and I would always celebrate each other’s birthdays and organise gifts for each other on behalf of Andy, encouraging Andy to draw a little picture on a card and wish each other a happy birthday, this time, Tom refused to communicate to Andy that it was my birthday.
We had discussed on the phone the arrangement of Andy returning to me on the morning of my birthday after spending a weekend with his father, so Tom knew full well that it was my birthday.
However, he refused to tell Andy, there was no card and no encouragement from him to say Happy Birthday or give birthday hugs or kisses.

Andy returned to me, and I gave him a big hug and told him that it was my birthday, so we were going to spend a fun day together, eating yummy foods, watching movies and playing together. Just the two of us.
Andy then burst into tears and hugged me saying, “Daddy didn’t tell me it was your birthday and I don’t have any present or card for you!” I assured him that that didn’t matter to me and that all I wanted for my birthday was to spend the day with him, to share lots of hugs, movies and we were going to make cupcakes together.


Andy felt happy about this and enjoyed helping me choose movies and our food for the day.

While I was getting ready to make cupcakes in the kitchen, Andy disappeared to his bedroom. He came out of his room with his hands behind his back and a smile on his face.

I asked him what he was hiding. He brought to me a single, green matchbox car.
As he passed it to me he said,
“Mum, did you know this is my favourite car? I love the red car and the fast yellow one too but this green one is my favourite.
It’s your birthday so I want to give it to you. I don’t have a real present for you but this can be your present because it’s a really good car. It’s fast and it’s my favourite colour and I want you to keep it.”

I told Andy that he was so sweet and kind to think of giving me one of his favourite toys as a present. I told him I wanted him to keep it but he was quite insistent and wanted to gift the car to me.

We agreed the little car would sit on my dresser in my room, and Andy could play with it any time he wanted.

The little green matchbox car still sits on the dresser in my room and has done for the past 8 years.

Every now and then I pick it up and hold it and the memories come flooding back.

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The little green matchbox car symbolises to me that in a time where I felt alone, I was heartbroken and emotionally struggling, my sweet little boy was radiating kindness and love.

A simple kind gesture from Andy communicated so much more;
Affection and care

It was also an indication that as a mother, I was doing something right.

why a matchbox car makes me cry

Thank you so much for reading my memory…

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