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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Death of My Minivan

Anyone remember a post I wrote a few months back about my beloved minivan?  About how much I love it?  About my attachment to it?  Even though it isn't cool to drive a minivan in Southern California?

Well, we're not going to remember the part where I said we dropped $1500 into its health and well being.  Because we remember only positive things about the deceased, right?

On our way up to a snowy Southern California mountain community over the New Year weekend, our trusted friend, the '03 Chevy Venture Minivan, was turned off for the last time.  Like in a panic.  After we watched the Temperature Gauge rapidly rise to RED within a very short span of time.  We barely had time to find a turnout off the highway.  We turned the key counter-clockwise, and we sat.  On the side of the road.  Rigor mortis setting in, with all of us sitting inside the minivan corpse.

Family had already gathered in my uncle's family cabin up the mountain, so the kids and I were rescued by my mom and aunt, and taken up to the cabin, while Hugo rode with the tow truck driver back to our dealership in Glendora.  He came up to join us with my brother-in-law the next day while the van was being given an autopsy.

This is our Dealership Man, Chuck, pointing out what is no longer there.
I don't know why I took this, or even why I felt like I needed to include it in this post, but these are the parts the dealership, in all its eagerness, ordered, should we choose to repair our old friend.  Look.  That's where my kids used to sit.  I can still feel the old cloth seats.
It's kind of sad for me.  I bought this van in Nebraska.  She was a part of my family that still linked us to that life, all the way down to the back window decal of a Cowgirl Praying at the Cross.  I had wanted this decal for my van in the worst way, but my ex-husband wouldn't allow me to buy or adhere it.  Doing it anyway was my first act of defiance after we separated.  It represented a life I was immersing myself into when we lived in the country, amongst cornfields, cattle pastures, deer, and coyotes.  A life where Tessa had a strawberry roan quarter horse, and Abi had a black grade pony.  It had been my dream to have horses, and that dream was being realized in the year or two before we left it all.

It's interesting, because that was a part of me that only lived a few short years.  In fact, only recently I was telling Hugo that that decal was so far removed from who I am now, that it really had found itself out of place on the vehicle I drove around every day.  But, I couldn't bring myself to remove it.  It belonged there, even though the poor horse had lost its back side, and top half of her tail.  In this picture, I like it that Hugo can be seen in the window reflection.  He was lovingly letting me say my final good-bye to my old friend.
I liked to take my minivan to a local carwash where they washed and vacuumed my little van far more lovingly than even I could.  In all they years I had the van here in Southern California, never once would I let anybody vacuum out the hay that could be found in the storage compartment under the floor of the back of the van.  Back in Nebraska, when our hay guy couldn't come up to our place to deliver hay for the horses, I would go to his barn and load up on a few bales until he could bring more.  I loved it that the same minivan that hauled boogie boards to the beach, used to haul hay.
I know.  I'm a sentimental fool.  And I'm wishing I would have gathered some of it up so that I could keep it on the Keepsake Shelf on my desk.  Hugo is happy I just took a picture.

It's just a car, right?  Right?!  Yes, it is.  A thing.  A mode of transportation.  So, why is my heart breaking?  I need to get a grip.

We had to go back to the dealership one last time, to settle up with them for the attempts they made at bringing life back to our four-wheeled friend.  It was then that I was able to say my dramatic, final good-bye, and take the pictures I've included in this post.

Both God, and my family, gave me a very special gift.  A sense of humor.  An eye for oddity.  A radar for any opportunity to take a break from darkness, and laugh myself back into light.  Sometimes, things just aren't all that bad, and laughter really can be the best medicine.

Hugo had to run back to our house to get something he needed from our files.  While he was gone, our dealership guy Chuck invited me to wait in their comfortable lounge, rather than stand around and wait in the Service Department (or car morgue, in my case).

I walked in to find a sofa, some easy chairs, and a television.  And a man sprawled out on the sofa, sound asleep.
Nice.  I took his picture and sent it to my kids.  He eventually woke up and kind of slouched in a sitting position, while he commented on the craziness of some celebrity-child names.  His eyes were still glazed from sleep.  He was quite comfortable, and at home.  I contributed to the conversation by bringing up the name Apple.

It was nice to laugh, even if I was laughing at someone else.  The guy, and Gwyneth Paltrow.


Until then, go out to your garage and give your trusted car a big hug.  Because you never know when it will be your last.

Dedicated to the Memory of my Beloved
Chevy Venture Minivan
2003 - 2012

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