A grandmother is a mother who has a second chance

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Paying homage to Thad

Heard a snippet of a song on my country station today that went, "you can't be cool in a mini van...". I had a mini van for several years and thought we were totally cool! Of course, recently my kids informed me that I was incorrect.

When the kids were little, Ford came out with the Aerostar mini-van with the pointy front hood. We used to call it the space van and would fantasize about how we would get one "when we got rich". That was our threshold for a lot of things back then.

Well, we never got rich. But my ex-husband (he who shall not be named) gave me the downpayment for a new car and I bought a brand new 1986 gold Chevy Astro Van. Man, we were stylin'. I found out just recently that when I proudly drove home with my new van, the kids were a bit horrified. Glad I didn't know it back then!

Jenni named the van Thad and it became an important member of our lives for ten years. Yes, by the end he was pretty worn down. Little by little he let me know he was getting tired. The armrest that fell off and found a permanent home on the floor in the back. The rear view mirror that would periodically fall off the window and I'd have to drive with one hand while holding the mirror up with the other. The continuous smell of apples from the jug of cider that broke in the back. The windshield wipers that would do their thing when I turned on the radio. The gash on the side from a little mishap in the self-serve car wash. The lights on the dashboard that went out when the new engine was installed and stayed out for the next three years - I had to keep a flashlight handy in case I needed to see how fast I was going at night. And, finally, the fan that quit working - no heat and no air conditioning. By this time the mechanic who had sent his kids to college on my repair bills said, "Sandi, for the love of god, get another car!!"

But Thad was such a part of our family that letting go was tough.

  • Thad hauled us and much of our "stuff" to California when we moved here in 1987.

  • When Joe bought his first professional drum set at the age of 15, it was Thad who carried the set home for us

  • When I took Jenni to see Barishnykov in San Francisco, Thad got us there. Oh, true, he decided to have a flat tire before we even left town. But thanks to AAA we fixed the tire and made it safely.

  • When my mom came to visit, Thad cheerfully drove us down Lombard Street in San Francisco. And, man, you haven't lived until you've maneuvered Lombard Street in a mini-van.

  • When my future sister-in-law needed to move her prized armoire to the new apartment she was sharing with my brother, Thad was the only vehicle that could accomodate it.

  • When the kids and I made our 14 hour lets-drive-through-the-night trips back to Tucson to visit family, Thad merrily came along with us.

  • When HWSNBN was finally out of the picture, it was Thad who went to the beach with me and a girlfriend for a celebratory glass of wine and shouts of joy

But I finally bit the bullet and traded Thad in for Gloria - a sleek little Saturn. As I was grabbing all my stuff out of the back seat, trunk, glove box, console, I was sobbing. So many memories. I hoped he didn't think I was abandoning him just because he was old and dysfunctional. Oh, wait, that's pretty much what I WAS doing!

More than likely he's resting in one of those car parts places - or at least "parts" of him are. I think he was cool. I think we were cool to have him.


Desert Diva said...

What a trusty friend "Thad" was to you and your family. My previous car didn't have a name, but it was a Honda Accord with 250,000 miles. I finally traded it in for my first "brand-new" car - a 2002 Honda CR-V!

Scoobers said...

Aw! How sweet. I felt the same way when I traded in my first car. Like it was a betrayal of some kind. : (

My parents bought a Dodge Caravan in 1988. We kids felt the same way about it as J&J did about Thad.

Fleur de Lisa said...

Isn't it funny how a car can be witness to so many events in our lives?

Thad was there for you, through thick and thin. Better than any husband! LOL

Chris said...

I was just talking about "family" cars the other day. I'm going to miss mine when she goes.
That story is so true, they hold many secrets and memories.