Thursday, April 17, 2008

Dear Bertha

Some people might say you're old, egg-shaped and that you have no nose.

Even when you were new to us, there were those who thought you were worn out, that you'd been around the block one too many times.

But, from the moment I saw you, I was in love.

You were born less than a decade before you came to us -- a first for our family. Your gold paint glistened in the sun and gave us motivation to keep you clean -- another first for us.

Unlike all of those other gutless wimps of mini-vans, you held your own even in the mountains. A press on the accelerator and you would do what you were supposed to do -- accelerate. I remember taking you up and down the mountains between Utah and Denver and the way you would push to the top, leaving sports cars and trucks in your wake.

You saw us through 130,000 miles of trekking. I drove you when we moved to Littleton, Colorado. Then, you kept us safe and happy on many trips between Colorado and Utah. You were there to help us bring our precious newborn Mashuga home from the hospital. Then, you took us back to the hospital six weeks later when he had RSV and pneumonia.

You were there, of course, when we moved back to Utah and into the happy home we own now. You've stuck with me through trip after trip after trip driving children to their charter school. You took us on our first family trip to Disneyland and then sat in the parking lot of the hotel without complaint when we took the shuttle back and forth. You never even got to see Disneyland, did you? But, we took you to the ocean also and you loved that, right?

You have been sticky and grimy inside and out. You've never complained. And do you remember when your door stuck open all the time until my Dad fixed it? It was pretty crazy there for a while. We never knew when you'd decide to drive down the road with all of your insides showing. And sometimes the solanoid in your starter liked to stick. One of us would have to climb under you and pound on the starter until you started. Not a very nice trick, but I know it wasn't your fault. Sorry we never got you a new starter.

So, Bertha. The insurance adjuster gave us the bad news last week. He called you a total loss. Total loss! Can you believe that? After all of the craziness we've put you through, a little front end damage (0kay and a cracked radiator and maybe some engine damage) and he dismissively calls you a total loss. Doesn't he know who you are?!?

I'm afraid we're faced with some tough choices my friend.

One of the toughest was the choice to buy an inexpensive car that fits our whole family. It will fill the gap while we save for something nicer. I didn't want to even think about replacing you with anything that wasn't obviously a step up. I was uncooperative and insistent on looking around. Maybe I was right, maybe not. But when a neighbor offered to sell us their 92 Mazda MPV just days after our crash, when it had just recently passed safety and emissions, when it was well within our price range and meant we did not have to get rid of all our capital for what was probably temporary car, when that price tag was only 50% of the low blue-book price, I had to grudgingly agree with JDub that it was an answer to our prayers.

So, you may have seen him parked next to you in the driveway, but I thought I'd better tell you myself. We have a new vehicle. He's green. His name is Carlos. But, even if you say it sexy by trilling the r, I still don't like him yet.

First off, he's a wimp. Pushing on his accelerator is, well, highly disappointing. There's not a lot happenin' under that hood. He complains a bit about steering. Every time I turn a corner, I just want to shake him by the steering wheel and say "Hello! Carrrrlos! This is what you're supposed to be doing!" He is in serious need of a lube job and an alignment. He's short and doesn't have very much storage space or leg-room for our family. (I'd forgotten how spoiled we were by you and your roominess.)

Oh, and this little van is just a bit too pretentious for my liking. I don't know, technically, whether he's a mini-van or an SUV. His hard, boxy edges give off the appearance of an SUV, but as we discussed before there's not much "sports" or "utility" goin' on with this guy. You could totally take him. At least you've never pretended to be something that you're not. You're solidly a mini-van, dorky to the core. And with your egg-shape and your funky little bra, I think you've pulled it off with style.

And last of all, he stinks. Now, don't get me wrong, he's not all smoky and smelly and disgusting like he could be. But, he just doesn't smell right. And I know what you're thinking. You stink too. Sometimes in the last 6 years you have stunk to high heaven. But that's different. That's family stink. It's sort of like the difference between changing your own children's diapers and changing OPC diapers. Other people's children always smell funnier.

So, I am grateful. Really I am. We have something that will get us through this rough spot, that will help us stay out of debt while we save and look carefully for a new car, one I can feel happy with making a part of our family. It really is a tremendous blessing that Carlos has come to us at this time in our lives.

But, I'm still grieving. I feel sad to lose you. Stupid. Can you ever forgive me? You've given us a strong, solid six years of car bliss. Sure, you have your faults. There were times you just stopped going for no reason at all. Then, you'd start again without any explanation or change. Your radio doesn't work. But, you're my girl. My friend. You've been through so much with us, a huge asset and major contributor to our family's happiness. You've done so very much for us and in a moment of stupidity and bad weather I rammed you head first into a solid-metal boat of a car. I'm so sorry.

My dad comes home tomorrow. He and JDub will have a look at you to see whether or not we should try to fix you up and enjoy you for whatever time you have left. As long as it's not too expensive, I think it might be worth a try. I hate to just give you away to our insurance company, even if they do give us more money that way. But, if it's going to cost too much and end up being a long, painful goodbye then maybe it's better for us to leave things the way they are. Part with a hug and kiss, gratitude and good memories.

I guess that's all I have to say, Bertha. You've been wonderful, no matter what anyone else says, no matter how many times I've taken you for granted and wished for a newer, better model. You have been absolutely perfect for our family and I hope you've enjoyed us, too. Only time will tell what our future holds, whether we will be together or apart. You're just sitting sadly in our driveway, waiting for the next phase of your life.

No matter what happens, I'll always care for you and remember you fondly.

Again, I'm sorry it had to play out this way.



Duchess said...

So sorry for your loss. I hope Carlos serves you well while he is with you.

Rosie said...

What a lovely way to break up with your car. I, too, hope Carlos serves you well.