SAN ANTONIO, TX — Wesley Ryan hated selling “Christine,” a 1993 Mustang he loved so much he considered it part of the family. But the San Antonio man loved Laura, his high school sweetheart and now wife, more. So when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the early 2000s, he sold the muscle car so he could pay her medical bills.
Ryan brought his daughter, Jeni, home from the hospital in the car. He and son Jake drove it to softball games around San Antonio. Though generally reliable, Christine — so named after the car with a mind of its own in a Stephen King novel by the same name — was sometimes temperamental when Laura tried to turn over the engine.
But when Wesley showed up, fickle Christine purred like a kitten.
Wesley sacrificed the Mustang for Laura, now cancer-free for 13 years, without flinching. He had loved her since they were high school sweethearts. Wesley says material things don’t mean that much to him, anyway, and Laura’s life was on the line.
So he let Christine go without hesitation. The car would have to live in his memory.
Christine might have been like a member of the family, but Laura and the kids came first, Wesley told Yahoo Lifestyle. He and Laura’s kids are grown now. Jake is a police officer and Jeni is studying to become a teacher. Wesley is as proud of them as any father ever was.
“You know, our family, we had some rough times,” he said, looking back on the decision to sell the Mustang. “You do what you have to as a parent, as a father — that’s how I looked at it. … My reward is my kids’ success.”
His mother’s death in January hit Wesley “like a brick,” he said.
“The kids told me I didn’t have my spark,” he said. “They wanted my spark back.”
Then, something extraordinary happened. Jake, a car buff like his dad, had stumbled on Christine a couple of years ago while searching Craigslist, but the owner wanted to much money and he let it go. Then, a few weeks ago, he found the Mustang was for sale again.
This time, with his dad so down, he wasn’t going to let Christine go. Jake alerted Jeni and her boyfriend, and the three of them pooled their money, and “brought Christine home.”
“He found the car again, and this time, he told himself there were no excuses,” Wesley told Yahoo Lifestyle of the surprise gift.
The kids arranged quite the build-up. They blindfolded their dad and asked him to sit on the curb in a Kohl’s parking lot in San Antonio. He heard Jake’s truck pull up, then the Zac Brown Band’s “My Old Man” blared from the stereo.
Tears spilled down Wesley’s face. What a family, he told Yahoo.
“The biggest problem the world has right now, we don’t love each other. … This shows what the world can do for each other,” he said. “This shows what family can do. … It’s always been about my kids. It’s always been about my wife.”
Jake said on his Facebook page that he’ll never forget the moment his pops saw Christine. The sacrifice he’d made years ago was just a measure of the man, but “to see his face and emotion made it all worth it.”
“She’s back home pops and here to stay this time,” he wrote, adding he’s looking forward to restoring the Christine with his dad “instead of being in a booster seat looking out the window.”
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)