Monday, February 8, 2016

Tribute to Bessie-the-Minivan

When you approach empty-nest stage of life, most families know their pets are aging, it's probably time for new carpet somewhere in the house, and the family minivan is verging on the frailty of old age.

We've only just recently had to call the kids home from college for one last weekend before putting the family dog to sleep. (pause for appropriate, "awww") Since Christmas vacation when our seventeen year old cat  lounged in the luxury of constant companionship of warm college-aged bodies to snuggle her, she's decided not to eat. At first we thought she'd gotten a cold, next we decided she couldn't smell her food, or was just too senile to remember to eat. But alas, our final diagnosis is just depression after the kids left for school, leaving her to sleep alone all day long. She's since adjusted, eating and playing hastily once more.

We know that somehow, somewhere between hitting the alarm clock every morning like in the movie Groundhog Day, that time actually has marched onward, taking us with it. Willingly? Yes, of course. I don't want to relive diapers, bottles, terrible two's, or dramatic teens. But when our family minivan, lovingly known as Bessie, began to hiccough this week--I felt a nostalgic twinge ping through my heart.

We paid far too much for Bessie the used green Honda Odessy in 2004. Emily was ten. Ben was eight. I had just graduated from my master's program. She was the first minivan I'd ever owned. Having always driven a little four door, I was proud to have mastered a slick parallel park with her.

The hours in this van....
The miles...
The travel mugs. Back packs, volleyballs, gym shoes, crusty lost french fries, spilled pop...

The conversations. Those sacred moments alone with each of my children, hearts opened and spilling out secret pains, or tender questions, needing assurance, hungry for a laugh, wanting to know everything would be okay.

The singing. Oh, the singing. At the top of our lungs. Looking like idiots driving down the road.
That fun with with Emily, singing "International Harvester".
The worship songs, the whispered prayers, the countless drives to church discussing the scripture lesson.
Not wanting to vacuum the sand from Sanibel Island, FL, from the carpet because I could still smell the beach. That was 219,000.

Bessie's been to Colorado once, Florida twice, Pennsylvania twice, Illinois countless times, Northern Michigan, hundreds of trips to Kokomo, and thousands of miles to and fro across Elkhart County, Indiana. To Nappanee and Wakarusa schools, the orthodontist in Elkhart, the doctor in South Bend, work in Middlebury and Goshen, and church halfway across the county. Sometimes 150 miles in a day, all in the same county during the soccer-mom years. Dance practices, drama practices, football games, girl-pack taxi, and guy-gang hauler.

She's got two dents in her fender, a 2-cent screw holding the PRNDL in functional order, dismantled automatic doors, a defunct CD player, and rusting out storage trunk from leaving the wing windows open one too many times in the rain.

And, oh, the time we packed her to drive Emily off to Taylor University the first time. And then Ben--promptly asked if they could just take Bessie to college and paint flowers on her, pad her with shag carpet, and hang curtains in her windows....

No we said, we'll keep her until she dies. But we'll have a proper funeral for her when it's time.
We'll say good words about our time with her.

And so the time has come.
She's been like a loyal family pet for 266,648 miles.
Thank you, Bessie.
We'll miss you and think fondly of you.

Name your favorite family vehicles and your favorite family moments....
Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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  1. My first date with my husband was a blind date. He came to pick me up at my apartment in a large black van. After he helped me in and was walking around to get in I slowly turned around and looked in the back. I was a mini fridge and a large built in bed in the back. I slowly turned back around and wondered "what have I got myself into!?" He was a perfect gentleman though and used his van like a camper.

  2. Very funny, Gail! Glad he turned out to be a gentleman!


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