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  • Writer's pictureKelly Marks

End of an Era

I am not a big fan of bumper stickers, except when I come to a red light, and the car in front of me is covered with them.  It’s like having reading material till the light turns green.  I’ve just never had any interest in putting them on mine - with two exceptions.

There is a round magnet that says Carpe Diem on the back of my car, and on the rear window there is a sticker that says UNC Mom . Other than that it’s just a plain Jane little car.  One time someone said to me that they thought they saw me and my “little nondescript car“ somewhere. That’s fine by me. I don’t necessarily want people recognizing me everywhere I go.  Shenanigans are harder to pull off if people know who it is.

Two days ago, I removed those stickers; I pulled out little toys from the backseat where Madi used to play as we traveled in the little car. I removed a little crucifix that I rub between my fingers when I drive to a speech I’m nervous about. I put all of these things in a box and tried not to think of what it all meant.

I’m certainly not a car enthusiast but I do love the independence a car gives a person.  You can ask Paul; I’m a little bit of a nut when my car’s in the shop.  I feel trapped or as I tell Paul - a hostage.  And as much as I loved this car, I knew it was time.

I had done the test drives; I had done the negotiations. All that was left was to sell my little old nondescript Honda Civic to Carmax. I wanted the whole process to be as quick as possible. I had the appointments lined up. Leave one car and pick up the new one across the street.

As I started off, it hit me that this would be the last time I drove it. I had had that car for 18 years; that’s 45% of my driving life. Madi had grown up riding in that Honda. She had learned to drive herself in it.  It made countless trips to the beach, mountains, camping, trips to Winston to see my mom.  It had taken me to see my dad every other week when he was sick. It had miraculously hauled as much gardening and fence supplies as a small truck.  When hauling the Girl Scouts around, we had rolled down all of the windows, everybody stuck their arm out and flapped them up and down to look like the car had wings.

Sometimes the end of an era is heralded with a celebration: a graduation, wedding, acceptance letter, but so many times, most times in fact, we don’t realize that whatever is happening is the last time.  I didn’t savor the last time Madi called me “Mommy” before moving up to the big girl version of “Mama,” the last time she would sleep in her crib before moving to a big girl bed.

Covid stopped me from realizing that I was packing my last school lunch or doing the last school drop off or seeing my last high school band concert. I thought I had time.  I was planning to enjoy those “lasts” but Covid cut it all short.

I don’t know that I would want to know “the last…” for everything, but this one made me pay attention because there were so many memories tied up in that little car. I cried all the way to drop it off.

However, when I was 2/3 of the way there, I heard a strange bump and clank from the back, and a skip from the engine. The faucet of sentimental  tears turned off instantly, and all I did was begin praying to make it in one piece to the car drop off.

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