Just automobiles. The Buick I’d bought from my brother-in-law was supposed to be a gift. I knew there would be members of DH’s family who wouldn’t appreciate the fact that I had been given a car. It wasn’t fancy and it was aging. It wasn’t like a magnate giving me a luxury sedan. I scraped together $125 and told him I wouldn’t take the car if he wouldn’t take the money. He reluctantly took it.
Over the couple of years I had it, it developed some expensive diseases. One was putrification of the automatic transmission. Believe me, even a rebuilt one isn’t cheap. I was directed to a little transmission shop in a nearby town and the owner gave me the best deal possible. I paid him half down then and the other half when I picked the car up. It worked.
Parts started not working, one by one. Or maybe it was three by three. If it wasn’t something that kept the car from being safe, I ignored it. Otherwise, I’d get the mechanic up the street to put another band aid on it. One day, he told me it was terminal. There was nothing he could do but put it out of its misery.
He’d go to car auctions and buy junkers to bring back, fix up and sell. I asked him to keep his eyes open for a car for me. I had to be able to get around. Being alone in the house for the first time in forever was unsettling and I needed to be able to go visit my children and my mother.
The Red Letter Day came. He told me he had a car for me. It wasn’t beautiful but it was a good, solid car and it would take me many a mile in safety. When he showed it to me, my heart dropped. It was a humongous Cadillac something or other. Not one of those smart little sporty ones. This one had been manufactured in the mid-70s and could have subbed for a battleship. I swallowed my pride and handed over the price he gave me. He probably didn’t make a dime on it. Since he was the caretaker of my vehicle, he had a certain sense of responsibility.
The day I drove it to work for the first time brought on some ribbing. The girls told me I could live in it if I ever had to move out of the house. I dreaded going to the academy in that car. I knew DD wouldn’t be proud of her mama in an old maroon Caddy.
Sure enough, she tried to shrink as much as possible when she was sitting in the passenger’s seat. I pointed out all the good things about it—the power windows, power seats, cruise control, the comfortable ride. I may have been imagining it but I felt she would prefer not being seen in it. I could understand. I didn’t want to be, either. It was definitely a humbling experience.
On one of my trips to see DS1 and my DIL, as soon as I got in the door, I was told to shut my eyes and hold out my hand. Something was placed into my outstretched palm and when I opened my eyes, there was a little square thing wrapped in plastic. On closer inspection, it had a “+” on it. I’m not too bright and it took a few seconds to figure out I WAS GOING TO BE A GRANDMOTHER!! Such excitement! I’d never been a grandmother before. This was going to be a new experience!
The apartments where the couple (soon to be three) lived had been built among the trees. I admired the construction company for sparing so much of the forest it had carved the complex out of. When I left that day, I was in such a tizzy I forgot I was driving a monster and I backed into a tree. That’s when I found out how cheaply that model of Cadillac was built. The fenders directly in front of the brake lights were made of plastic. The one that impacted the tree crumbled into a million pieces. There was a huge hole where there had once been none. I didn’t know what to do other than cover it up with duct tape. It wore a big silver bandage.
When I went back to the academy, the addition to the car’s natural beauty added insult to injury. I tried to hold my head high and pretend I didn’t care but I guess I’m too shallow to really bring it off. My pride was showing and it was hurt. I don’t know if DD noticed it or not. I think she tried not to look at the car.
A car with that many years on it has to have problems and it started manifesting them one by one. The power seat froze in one position. It’s a miracle that it did it at least close enough for me to still reach the pedals. Then it started choking and coughing. I took it to see the car doctor and he said it needed a carburetor. I gave him lots of money to buy a rebuilt one (you don’t buy new for cars that old) and one by one, he got them in, tried them, and had to send them back. After unsuccessfully fitting a replacement, he gave up and rebuilt it himself. He gave me most of my money back. I blessed him with my best blessing and drove home.
I could see the writing on the wall. It would only be a matter of time until that car was toast. I was tired of disposable cars and applied for a loan from my 401k to get enough to buy something decent. It wouldn’t be new but it would be decent.
I had to jump through all sorts of hoops to get the loan. I asked one of the men from the church about where I could find a good car. He took it as a missionary project and started scouting for me. There was a free publication with ads for cars and he said he’d found one. He’d take me to see it.
When the day came, DD was home on leave. I was planning to drive a “new” car home so we wedged ourselves into the cab of his truck along with his son. The only one of the four of us who was slim was DD. It was going to be an interesting trip.