This week I got a little piece of my mom back, or at least it sure felt that way. After my mom died, I would make annual pilgrimage to my dad’s to pick up her car and bring it here for the summer. It was one of the few material things in life that I could actually say brought me true joy. Sliding into the leather seat, turning the key, and hearing that distinct roadster purr. Top down, sun shining, and feeling the miles of pavement slip beneath me at a fast pace left me feeling peaceful and closer to her. My dad was bid me goodbye with his standard smiling wave. (One day I need a picture of this wave, as it is always done with a smile after a big hug, meanwhile I was often teary eyed knowing I wouldn’t see him for a while). I did this for a few years, until one year he told me to take it home and keep it because he saw just how comforted and happy it made me. He signed it over to me and said my mom would have wanted me to have it.
Over the years, that car has brought me so much comfort. When one of our main cars broke down, we had it as a spare. For a while my husband drove it daily, and I would look out the window and howl with laughter watching such a big, brawny guy compact himself to get into such a little sports car. He looked like a Transformer and would give me a sarcastic wave while watching me giggle away as he bent himself down to get into it. The car took me on long nightime drives along the coast on hard days which allowed me to clear my head. I would go and sit in it on days when I needed to talk to my mom, chatting away as if she was sitting next to me listening. I always felt better for doing so. It is a car my kids beg to go for a ride in, and they always ask for the top down, usually to go at night, and they stare up at the stars while the wind blows through their hair. When he was little, my son declared my car (an SUV) not a cool car, but my mom’s car was labelled as “cool”. The car has also taught my children a bit about marriage. The car, while impractical for a mom and expensive to fix, means more to me than just about any other material thing, and my husband knows this. I’ve offered to sell it when times got hard over the years, but he has always talked me out of it. He knows what it means to me, and because it means so much to me, it means a lot to him too. They see that their dad supports my passions and ideas, and it sends a good message about what marriage should be.
I’ve mentioned in prior posts that when we got a new family car, my mom’s car was parked, and it sat untouched as our lives were constantly busy. It sat. And sat. Sitting isn’t great for cars. They are designed to MOVE. Sitting isn’t much good at all. If you’ve followed along, you’ll know that it got damp, and then mold set in. I can tell you from experience that mold is a BEAST and if you’re not careful it can make you violently ill. I almost ended up in the hospital from it. That being said, I persisted, despite getting sick twice, and I got the car cleaned out. I had to make a decision on what to do next, and I decided to fix it. A trip to the mechanic had a big list of repairs to get it roadworthy. I got the whole list done. I got home after picking it up and found some issues has mysteriously resolved themselves. I got the headliner replaced since it had dropped and was in bad shape. After hunting for quotes, I went to the cheapest place because a shop I liked recommended them. The guy was a character, to say the least, but his work was good, and he offered to fix another issue….the top mechanics. I had troubleshooted the issue with the top, and after some trial and error, confirmed why it was sticking and not functioning. The headliner guy said he could manufacture a replacement piece after I showed him my findings and I took him up on it. What would have cost me about a grand at the dealership cost me $50. I left with the car running as it had back in the day.
As I drove around, top down, hair pulled back, I caught myself smiling a huge grin. My daughter commented “Nana would be SO happy you got it fixed” and she’s right. Just like years ago, getting into the car makes me smile, feel comforted, and feel like my mom is a little closer.
I’ve always tried to celebrate her life, her joy, and her sense of fun. I do it for her, for me, and especially my kids. My kids grew up without knowing her, but they know her through me. Through silly stories, through treats on sad days to make them less sad. On her birthday? We go for ice cream or do something fun. I’ve never wanted them to think of her in a sad way. That seems so opposite of who she was. I want them to think of her and feel love, kindness, and happiness, because that’s who she was. The only way they will know her is really through the efforts me or those who know her make. My best friend will sometimes tell them stories about her and it always makes me glad they hear how awesome she was from someone else.
Since I saved so much money on the repairs, I’m able to do some body work to it as well. Dents, and a spot of rust will get fixed up so the car will be in really good shape and last. Despite being 22 years old, it purrs and runs like it did when we got it. Now the process of getting estimates and making a plan. Regardless, I know my mom would be happy. I’m friggin ecstatic!