Sunday, October 26, 2008

I See… When a Loved Car Passes Away

The tragedy of death visits all families, and so it is with us. I’d like to announce the passing of our 1991 Nissan Maxima, affectionately known during the closing chapters of its life as “Brian’s Car.”

It was a good car while it lived in the land of combustion. It blessed the lives of many others before us; it entered our world as an old, seasoned veteran of 160,000 miles. We would enjoy the privilege of driving it 28,000 miles more before it passed away gracefully on the morning of 16 October.

It seems like it was just yesterday that we purchased Brian’s car from a young graduate student family for only $1,800. Although 1990’s vintage classic was bought with the family budget, it was meant to be for Brian to drive around town and maintain a busy social calendar before he left for college and a mission. The black mid-sized sedan sported an accessory never seen in our practical family- a sunroof. We did the best to nurture it in the twilight years in support of a busy teenager’s life- we changed the oil religiously, installed a new stereo, and in a brief moment of raw manhood, took apart all four doors and replaced the ailing power window motors with replacements retrieved from the local junkyard. The work invested in maintaining and modifying Brian’s car forged a testosterone-tinged bond that made giving it up to the same junkyard all that more heartbreaking.

It started going downhill soon after my son left for his mission. It was as if it instinctively knew that it had been robbed of its primary reason for running. I drove it once a week or so in a futile attempt to keep the engine oiled and working. It was difficult to spend any time relaxing in its cavernous bucket seats and not be nostalgically reminded of the boy we bought it for.

After totaling my own car last Christmas, I drove it for about three months straight, and the two-hour daily round-trip commute rapidly took its toll on the graying engine. We had to replace the battery, and the exhaust system had stopped working- a sure sign that it was on its last wheels. We could have pursued costly major surgery, but we mercifully determined that it would not have significantly prolonged its quality of life. It was time to do the right thing and let go. The last straw occurred late one rainy night, when a worn right driver’s side tire blew so badly that it disintegrated into smithereens. After that fateful night, it would never return to practical use again.

It was a long drive to the junkyard that fateful Saturday morning. 30 minutes later all I had left was 96 dollars and a cache of treasured memories. Brian’s car was gone and so was Brian. My son will return from his mission in 10 months, but his car will live on only in our hearts as a monument to more pleasant, frugal days.

Do not grieve for us, or for the vehicle. Brian’s car is in a better place; it escaped a torturous existence in its last days ruled by rusted mufflers and stiff, unresponsive transmissions. We are happy that it can rest now, and surely, on our budget, after the pain subsides, we look forward to nursing another old classic along the road to redemption when Brian concludes his missionary labors. At that time, we are confident that another “Brian’s car” will rise from the ashes of the phoenix and bless us with more opportunities for selfless maintenance and repair. Thank you for your understanding.

1 comment:

  1. Cory's beloved 1991 Subaru Legacy Wagon, passed away a few weeks ago. He liked to call it the "Silver Bullet", but I liked to call it "Champ". I have been planning to post about it on my blog, I just haven't taken any pictures yet. Anyway, the car lasted 4 years and had 252,000 miles. Not bad for a car that cost us $800.