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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Well Done, Good and Faithful Friend

We bought her the day The Grommet turned 5. On her "maiden voyage" with our family, she carried 7 kids and miscellaneous kid paraphernalia to a birthday party at an indoor human hamster trail. It went like that for the next 17 years. She was a school bus, a surf wagon, a cross-country mover, a field trip excursion mobile, a tiki hauler, a PTA commuter, a camping vehicle, and everything in between. She carried us to weddings, baptisms, birthdays, funerals. She moved us from state to state and home to home. When our kids learned to drive, she was there for them. She was the perfect drive-in movie van, hockey team van, soccer team van and there are probably so many more trips that did not include Charlie and I than we probably want to know. If she could talk, I still think she would keep confidences.

She's been a good and faithful friend, and for that reason, I actually got emotional when talking to the car dealership salesman yesterday about trading her in. I actually cried and had to walk away for a bit. Its a car. But so much more than that. I've refered to her as "she" since the day we got her. Why? Because I knew from the get-go that it would take the strength of a woman to see us through the years I knew we were going to need from her. She was our first brand new vehicle. We haven't bought a brand spanking new vehicle since. Yes, we've bought used cars to accommodate the growth of our driving crew. They've all been hand-me-downs and nothing fancy. Just enough to get kids back and forth to school and work. With college tuitions and growing bills, we've tried very hard to keep the family afloat and we've always put ourselves last. That's what you do. She's been tired for a long time now and in need of relief, but she kept going and going. The vent fan has been broken forever, there's no air conditioning and there hasn't been for years. I just keep the side windows open all the time because the front windows don't go down. She sputters and moans. We've repaired and repaired and lucky for me, I have an in-house mechanic who has done miracles over the years to keep her running. Not just this van, but every car in what he calls "the fleet". But now we're putting out more in repairs and rental fees than a car payment would be and that's when you really have to draw the line .

I have joked for a few years now how I don't wash her because I believe the only thing holding her together is the dirt on her sides and the stickers on her back window. Yes, she complains a bit when I start her and she groans. But I rub her dash and caress her steering wheel and say soothing words and she responds. Again, like a woman. Just try a little tenderness. Still, we haven't been able to take long trips for fear of getting stuck in the middle of nowhere, and just the other day at the market down the street, she just did not want to start. Its time. We have gotten out of her all we can. Not wanting to add another car payment or expense to our budget, we've put off the inevitable as long as we possibly could. But we can't put it off any longer. Neither one of our vehicles is dependable, but of Charlie's and mine, my girl is probably the worst off. His is close behind. We need at least ONE car that works. Not just works, but gives us some peace of mind and a little bit of freedom.

I love this van. She's been a part of many, many joyful memories. It is very hard to say goodbye. I can say in all honesty I feel sad to lose my dear, faithful friend. As Scotty would say; "Captain, she's giving us all she's got!" She did give us all she had to give and we're grateful.