Monday, April 5, 2010

Top-down Days

I love my car! I realize I'm a middle aged woman and that statement is a bit out of character. At least it feels like it to me. I've spent most of my life seeing cars as nothing more than a mode of transportation; something to carry you from point A to point B with relative speed and ease. What the car looked like or what kind of engine it had never concerned me. I drove a minivan for over 18 years and the only thing I ever cared about was where the cup holders were located and did it run well enough to get the three kids to the event of the day.

Then one sunny afternoon David and I were out and about and we pulled up to a stop light. A sleek, red sebring convertible slid in beside us and it caught my eye. I grabbed David's arm and said, "Look! Some day I'm going to drive that car! David laughed and said, "The boys will love taking it on dates and the Taco Bell wrappers they usually throw into the back seat will just blow away when the put the top down. Good idea!"
I assured him that "some day" meant when I no longer had any teenagers in the house. We both knew that I would probably never own such a car since it was impractical and pricey. I'd probably drive an old minivan the rest of my life.

And then David was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Everything changed - including my ride. A few months before his death, and several weeks beyond his ability to drive David announced he was trading in his car (a gold, Lincoln. He bought it used but he loved his "luxury" ride) I told him we didn't need to do that because trading in cars was complicated and expensive and time-consuming. I didn't want to waste a moment of our time together dealing with cars. David insisted and so we went car shopping. (how do you tell a dying man NO?)

That's the moment I learned why men love their cars. They become emotionally attached and now I too am quite emotional about my bright red, sebring convertible. David traded in his "love" to buy me that "ride" I once said I wanted. I was amazed he even remembered that I said I liked the car; even more amazed that he searched online sites to find the red one.

Today was a sunny, warm day and I took her for a spin with the top down. The sun felt so good after a cold, grey winter in Michigan. I smiled and I cried. Every time I get in that car I am reminded of David's love for me; sacrificial, self-less love from a dying man.

I love my car! I gave her a bath this past week in anticipation of top-down days. I named her; Princess. I don't let my sons drive her and she has never been sullied by anything that even remotely smells like Taco Bell. I plan to keep her for as long as possible. She reminds me that I was once loved and cherished by a good man. She helps me to think about the best parts of life with David instead of dwelling on the tough times and the loss. I figure anything that can help me to do that is worth keeping. Princess has earned her keep!

May you find those things that make you smile; those little daily touches that help you to embrace the good memories and divert your attention from the grief and loss. May you hold on to those "touchstones" in life that remind you of all that was good and right in your relationship with the one you lost. Princess is my touchstone.

I love my car! I am praying for record-breaking top-down days! If you see a middle aged redhead tooling around town in a red sebring with the top down - honk! It's probably me and Princess. I'm quite a spectacle and I don't care. Did I mention, I LOVE MY CAR!




  1. What a great story of love and thoughtfulness! I'm still on that roller-coster of grieving. During our lent and Easter season I was comforted by the memories and traditions I have shared with family who aren't here....and then at the celebration feast of Easter (did i metion my mom is Polish = feast) I felt like I was going down hill fast. I caught myself looking at the door for my sister to come through any minuit with her great laugh and huge smile, and my little brother to get there late so my mom could ask "where have you been"?.....and I could see my dad just sitting there smiling through all the caous of 7 kids and 13 grand kids running around. He LOVED his family. I guess all i can do is hold on and wait for this ride to be over or..... scream my head off! Thank you for your story, and the reminder to hold on to those things of comfort. I never liked roller coasters!!! Another Karen

  2. Ah the red car! :) I loved "hearing" this story through the blog