I’ve only bought one new car in my life that I really cared about: a 2000 VW Passat Wagon. I was a single mom, and it was the first car I’d ever bought on my own, with my own money, without having to check in with anyone. I loved that car in a way that was not entirely natural.
I traded in my beloved Passat in 2005 to get a 2000 Suburban with 66,000 miles on it. My husband, Herb, and I were expecting our fourth boy, so a third row became a necessity. It was a sacrifice I was willing to make. But I cried a little.
Over the last eight years, we have put another 150,000 miles on Thelma. (We named her Thelma when my husband got Louise, a 1985 Mercedes diesel sedan who came pre-named. Kind of like a rescue dog.) Until I stopped driving three months ago, there were not many days in the last eight years that I did not sit behind Thelma’s steering wheel at some point.
Thelma suited me. When you’ve got a house full of boys, having a car you can bang around without freaking out was a blessing.
But today Thelma breathed her last. We had actually already decided that it was time to replace her. The repairs she needed were going to cost more than she was worth. We were already doing the car equivalent of shopping around for assisted living facilities. But she was still alive and kicking until this afternoon.
Herb texted me from the side of the road while waiting for a tow truck, saying that he thought Thelma was upset with us. He was kidding, but I think he may be right.
I wonder. Did she know that she was being replaced? Was her blown alternator today really a suicide? Or was she really flipping us off a three-ton bird, as if to say, “I’ll go out on my terms, you ungrateful wench!”
I don’t know. But I do know that she’ll be missed. We have created so many memories in Thelma:
o Bringing Jordan home from the hospital, my tiny little peanut.
o The year Herb gave me my “1GR8WIF” license plate for my birthday.
o Joshua throwing up all over me in the parking lot of the Atlanta airport. I had to change clothes completely, in the car, older boys standing guard holding up beach towels.
o Joshua throwing up an entire Varsity frozen orange on the day that Herb’s stepfather had a heart attack. We had to call Onsite Mobile Detailing so that we could get on the road to Florida.
o Driving home from a road trip to Maine with four boys, one dog, five bikes, and three kayaks. (No one threw up.)
She also had a lot of scars with stories, much like her owner.
o The crushed second-row stereo control panel: Courtesy of heavy boxes of bookcases from Ikea, improperly restrained.
o The crushed roof rack: We sped into the parking deck of the hospital in Richmond, forgetting that the Thule was on the roof. It was our fifth anniversary, and Joshua was bleeding all over the back seat, on his way to his first set of stitches in his forehead.
o The broken sunroof: We duct-taped it shut after too many leaks. Yes, we are the Clampetts.
o The gash over the front right wheel well: It was made by a guy who opened his car door into our car in the parking lot before the Styx/Yes concert. He gave us beer. We called it even.
We pray that the men over at No Longer Bound will revive you, and that you will rise again to bless someone else. I will always love you, Thelma.
Please don’t stay mad at me.
Marybeth W. Edgecomb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.