This old car was not the ordinary definition of pretty. In fact, she was pretty ugly. Some might even say repulsive, an eye sore. If I had an ounce more pride than desperation I would have never been seen in it. It was a 1982 station wagon, pea green mind you, with wood paneling running down both sides. Bring to mind the car from National Lampoons Vacation, remember that one? Yes, you got it, that’s the one. She was the ugliest car you could imagine, but she was part of our life that we will never forget.
My Dad bought her for us, “She’s dependable”, “a good sturdy car”. He had gotten it down the road from a neighbor for a good rate. He came pulling into the driveway with it and inside I was squirming and pleading that this was not want he wanted me to drive my 3 kids around in. He got out, handed me the keys and she was mine. All mine. This green giant was mine. My Dad excitedly pointed out the special feature that the back window went down, so when you piled all the kids into the back they could see out and make inappropriate faces and hand gestures to the cars behind them. The interior was brown, so the car almost looked like an Avocado, which is exactly what she affectionately became known as.
(but for the stories sake, let’s call her Avo).
Let me tell you a little bit more about Avo and the capabilities she had. She could carry two adults, 3 children, 1 dog, 2 cats, approximately 25 sand toys, 55 random French fries, countless Barbie shoes, missing socks, important school papers that never got turned in, $56.00 in loose change and 10 bags of groceries. Avo was a power horse. Until she wasn’t anymore.
In July of the following year, Avo had been making a lot of trips to the courthouse and wildly stressful and sad places as my husband and I decided to get divorced. During that time, she was my sanctuary. I would take her down to the lake and she was the only one in the world who knew exactly how I felt. She would hold me while I cried and tried to figure out what to do. She kept my secret smoking habit under wraps. Every month for 6 months, Avo and I would drive to that huge white building in the middle of the city and we would look for an open spot with no other cars near so Avo could have her space. We would lumber passed the sports cars and the elite ones finding our spot a few blocks away.
Nearing the end of the marriage, when the divorce was soon to be final, I noticed Avo starting to get old. Her locks weren’t opening when needed, she was getting a lot of rust around the edges and one day, she just decided not to go into reverse anymore. It was almost as if she just decided “nope, I’m not doing it anymore.” But, truthfully, she had done so much for us, the soccer games, the fireworks, the sleepovers, the long trips, I couldn’t blame her. I understood. I could have gotten rid of her at that time and replaced her with something new. But, I didn’t. The kids and I learned how to park very strategically for the last 6 months of Avos life. We would look for hills to park on so when we needed to reverse we could just “Roll” back. If that was not an opportunity, we made sure we could just pull forward. And worst-case scenario, we would all put one foot out and push her backward like a scene on the Flintstones. It was almost a game we played every day. You see, Avo was not just an old ugly car, Avo taught us about love, family, commitment and togetherness. We learned about life and love with Avo.
Avo lasted another 6 months with us. During that time, I started back in college. Night after night Avo would start up and we would trudge through the snow and sleet back and forth to school. She truly was my trusty steed. One especially snowy night, I had a late class. I was creeping home very gingerly as Avo’s tires had been smooth as butter for about 5 years. About half way through my trip home, I came upon a snow plow in the oncoming lane. Before I knew what happened Avo and I drifted into the other lane and we hit head on with that snow plow. That was it. It was over. Avo was finished. Her front end was crumpled into a heap, the bumper is probably still in that ditch. The tow truck came and before they hitched her up, while I waited for my ride, I said goodbye. I thanked her for all she had done for me and for all that she taught us. I told her how much I would miss her and then I watched as she lumbered down the road one last time hooked up to the back of the tow. I stood there until she was out of sight and slowly walked to the car there to pick me up. As I wearily climbed into my seat, I heard the familiar tune of “Long May You Run.” Come across the radio waves.