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Goodbye, car (08/15/2012)
By Frances Edstrom
I sold my car. It is a vanilla white 2006 Chrysler 300 sedan with a hemi engine, all-wheel drive, and leather seats. Whoa! It is a great car. The front of the car is intimidating and always reminded me of the sort of vehicle that would carry a Mafioso, or some foreign dignitary. Yet it was easy to park, and would go really, really fast. But Johnís car is newer, and on a lease, which would cost extra to break, so I decided to drive his car until the lease is up. No need for two cars now. If I were to have two cars, Iíd want the other one to be something absolutely frivolous and funómore of a car to look at than take to the grocery store.

But after the car was gone, I was amazed how much I had identified with it. I drove down the road in Johnís car, which has nothing to distinguish it from a million similar black SUVs, and I didnít feel like me anymore. I passed a friend driving in the other direction, and waved. No response. Was he snubbing me? No, I figured, he just didnít recognize me in a car other than my white Chrysler.

In the parking lot, I have to peek in the windows to see if itís my car. I donít know how people who never leave anything in their cars know which car is theirs. I suppose they have to memorize the license plate number.

That white car and I had some memorable times. In fact, the car had some memorable times without me. A month or so after I bought it, a friend asked me if her son and his wife could use it for their wedding. Sure! I said. But I had to have hip surgery and couldnít leave the house yet, so my car went to the wedding without me, and transported the happy couple (now just a few days away from the birth of their fourth child) from the church to the reception. I saw photos, and had to compliment my car on its photogenic form.

It was that car that has transported all of my grandchildren, almost six-year-old Peyton, three-year-old Andie and almost three-year-old Harry. Itís seen its share of Cheerios pounded into the carpet and stuck between the seat bottom and back. Itís been covered with little fingerprints. Itís been a treasure chest of dropped change for the kids to find.

We didnít usually take my car on trips. John didnít like driving in it, because heíd always forget that he had to put the seat down to its lowest point before getting in. If he didnít, heíd have to duck his head sideways, which would knock off his hat, which would fall on the ground, etc., etc., which ended up making him mad.

His car is just a little too high, so the white car was the one we drove when we took his mother out. She is about five inches shorter than I am, so you can imagine the boost she needed to get into the SUVóa step ladder would have been nice.

When we moved to our new house, I was excited that my car had all-wheel drive, because the new driveway is steep. One winter day, it snowed and snowed. I had no fear; I had AWD! But as I started up the drive, the car slewed around and wouldnít go up the hill. I called John, who was at home. My savior! He would be right down. He, he implied, was obviously the superior driver, and would get my car up the hill and into the garage. He got in my car, tried to get up the hill, and couldnít. Deflation! And not the tires. But a look at the tires showed they were balder than John. We drove the car to the tire store, got new tires and never had a problem again.

My white car took me to Johnís funeral, but not to the gathering afterward, or home. Cassidy and I parked illegally next to the church building, because as usual, we were late. At some point, Cassidy handed off the car keys to my sister Mary Ann. But after the church service, I hung around talking to people, and Mary Ann took off for the gathering of friends and family. When Cass and I got to the car, no keys, and no way to contact Mary Ann. Luckily, my sister-in-law Kathy was still there, and gave us a ride. The white car was collected the next day.

And now itís gone. A symbol of a notable period of my lifeólike the old brown Ď70s Olds 88 that the kids and I drove because it was the biggest, safest car on the road (we finally got rid of it when they repainted the parking lines downtown and it didnít fit between the lines!). I can cry a little for its departure, but now I have a year and a half to dream about a future car, for my new stage of life. 


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