We sold our van today. Now that’s a good thing, since it is currently un-driveable due to transmission problems. So we are fortunate to find someone who knows how to fix it up and is willing to buy it from us. I just came inside from cleaning it out, and I must confess, I am a bit sad.
We have traveled 110,000 miles in our van. Aside from a few minor glitches along the way, our van has been a comfortable, dependable friend. In the past year, my friend started showing its age. It didn’t want to move as fast, it was a little creaky, and occasionally some things stopped working. The driver side window hasn’t gone down for a while, and for some reason I would never remember until I was at the drive-up sign at Wendy’s or Chick-Fil-A. Do you know how difficult it is to talk into that little speaker with your car door open and the warning signal beeping? Or how hard it is to get three beverages and two bags of food between the wall of the building and the partially opened van door? But I didn’t mind. My friend was getting older, so I understood.
We have shared many experiences together, this friend and me. Multiple summer trips to Lake Michigan are still evident in the beach sand that can be found in the nooks and wrinkles of the carpet and fabric. Annual Michigan state park registration stickers line the side of the windshield. The sturdy luggage rack reminds me of the time we forgot to lock the cartop carrier after unloading our camping equipment, and the carrier lid flew open while we were driving, scattering our tent cover and tarp unto the road. On that same trip, during a torrential rain storm while trying to set up our tent, I was accidentally hit in the head by the back hatch of the van when one of the family members tried to close the hatch in the dark, not realizing I was looking for something. Ouch – I saw stars that time!
My friend has only been in one accident. A fender bender from behind, which left minimal damage, or so we thought. Later, after the repairs to the back hatch were made, my husband turned on the rear defroster on a cold Sunday morning, only to hear a loud “pop” and cracking noise. We turned around to find the entire back windshield had shattered and was all over the road. That was a cold ride to church!
I just finished cleaning out my van for the last time. Not that I clean it out very often – for some reason I’m not good at that. It has definitely been a “family van”! I found a seashell, probably from a Michigan beach. Then there were the tiny red cover shields from an “AutoBingo” game that fell apart. A parking ticket from a local hospital where my pastor/husband has made many a visit to sick church members. A spare brake light and screwdriver, because the rear brake light went out on a regular basis, probably due to a short in the wiring somewhere. A pile of corroded pennies from the ashtray because somehow we never did get all the change cleaned out. My husband’s rubber galoshes for over his dress shoes – we finally just kept them in the van after he ended up in muddy cemeteries too often without any protection for his shoes. The AAA travel club sticker we never put on the windshield. A candy cane from Christmas. Rocks my daughter collected. Five maps of Ohio – why, when we live here? One map of Indiana, from the eventful camping trip mentioned earlier.
We’ve hauled windows in our van for our family room addition. We’ve moved our sons in and out of their college dorms for the last 5 years. We took our daughter to her first day of kindergarten. We took our beloved dog Sparky to her final resting place on my parents’ property, and we brought home our new dog Mandy from the APL, finding out she gets carsick when she vomited in the van upon arriving in our driveway. Sometimes we picked up neighbor kids and took them to church. Each December we drove around the neighborhoods as a family, looking at Christmas lights.
But now it is time to say good-bye, good-bye to a friend that represents the passing of time, the changes in my life, the memories that make us who we are. Thanks, friend, for traveling so many miles with us. It’s been a good ride.