I HAVE STARTED THREE BLOG POSTS since my last one, and all of them have gone stale in my drafts folder. Yet, the urge to write does strike me occasionally, and this week it smacked me upside the head as if to say, here’s your next post.
A year ago this month, I was dealing with my mother’s illness and death. Although we have fun things planned in the next few weeks, including a family reunion, my birthday and Ross’s 21st birthday, and a weeklong getaway, the anniversary is looming large. I think about her daily, and not just because I’m still working to wrap up her estate. I feel her presence as I consider who I am, where my life is now, and what my plans are.
And by “plans,” I mean both “the grand scheme of things” and “I wonder if I should buy this car.”
Now that their baby is a toddler, friends of ours have decided that it’s time to trade their beloved convertible BMW for a FamilyMobile. Hey, it happens to the best of us! Why, my own mother liked to remind me that after I was born she and my dad had to trade in their uber-cool, two-seater convertible Jag…
…for a big ole Pontiac station wagon.
You see, my parents loved a hot rod and appreciated a fine-looking automobile. My dad trophied in drag races, and the memoirs my mom wrote included something like four pages about her various cars. She even taught internal combustion engines to a bunch of high school boys in one of her first years of teaching, so she knew from cars. And indeed, when I started browsing through the images from the 1960s slides she converted , I found these:
The MGA Roadster was Mom’s, and Dad drove the other car (wish I could ask her what it was, because she would describe it in extreme detail). Please note that these his ‘n’ hers convertibles are both white with a red interior.
Also among the slide images I found these, taken at some car show. Clearly, there’s a recurring theme (or maybe an obsession?):
Fun fact – In a box of my dad’s things I found a stack of new car brochures from 1966-1968, all for big-engine American cars. I, of course, was born in 1967, so clearly, Larry was pining for something more even as he settled for that Pontiac wagon.
Mom waxed nostalgic about that MG. She liked it because it was fun to drive, super cute, and because it was easy to fix. She said she carried a wrench with her because occasionally something needed adjusting, and that one wrench was all she needed. One time she pulled into a gas station to make a quick adjustment. She propped up the hood (bonnet?) and the station attendant approached to ask the little lady if she needed help. “Nope, I got it,” she said, probably with her signature raised eyebrow as she pointedly cleared her throat. She left him scratching his head.
Rosemary spent the ensuing decades driving one practical car after the next, as most of us do. But when she and RJ got together, it so happened he had a dealers license, and when he found her a white convertible Mustang to drive she happily abandoned her last in a series of Buicks for hotter wheels. Its interior wasn’t red, but that was OK – she got many miles of top-down enjoyment out of it.
All of this is the context within which I consider buying a convertible. Obviously, I come by it naturally.
I have a Jetta that I love with a year left on lease. And, last year we got an old Jeep Wrangler, which is great for local running around or trips to drive-on beaches or mountain cabins. Two adults, two cars. But how often is it that you have a chance to snag a 10 year old BMW, that has been owned by people you know and trust for the past eight years, with only 76K miles on it?
Practical Meg was thinking, don’t be silly, you don’t need another car right now. But yesterday, I was going through a box of Mom’s things, and that picture of her grinning in her MG was atop a stack of photos. I took this as a sure sign that if anyone would support such a purchase, Rosemary would. In fact, she would have asked to take it for a spin and may even have wanted to peek under the hood. And she makes it possible, with some of the money she left me. Because you can’t take it with you.
It’s black, with a black interior. And it’s just so fun to drive.