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  • Gerald Tindal

Day 32: Cars

Updated: Sep 18, 2018

Karsten,


I noticed something about my recent letters: They tend to be datelined with reference to the previous day. One day, I’ll think about the future and preflect. Anticipate life more. Plan. Your mom and I still do sit quietly in the morning and toss to each other an event about to occur for the day. So that’s a start. I don’t use my calendar much yet.


Last night, we turned in early as we’ve tended to do lately, a practice not allowed in senior centers to enforce more socialization and prevent bed sores. Nevertheless, staring at the TV seems useless; reading too difficult. Thinking in the dark is about all I’m good for.


It was difficult to find your soul yesterday. It was more about all the vulgar aspects of death. Bank accounts. Log in passwords. Follow up lists of things to do. Perhaps the only solace was beginning the thank you cards, though they tend to take us back to ground zero. You were loved by a whole lot of people, so it may be our saving grace to go there soon.


Finally, near the end of the day you were present: It was your 4runner. Your new car that you kept so clean and neat. The one we washed too often this summer. I sprayed the hose while you did all the washing. We were at Woodfield Station on south Willamette, having yogurt as a pick up, and what appeared to be spontaneous gathering of auspicious cars began to collect. Sleek. Shiny. Classic. A red Mustang, black Corvette, blue Firebird, Cadillac with wings, raked blue Nova. Fifties and sixties. Some with the car hood up, running their engines. Men standing in small groups, small talk by the side, leaning over and into the engine. Then Cruella de Vil showed up. He got out, walked around to open the door for his lady, and they walked off, not interacting with anyone.


It was an interesting spectacle and your 4runner wouldn’t qualify. Nor would you be interested in attending. But you did love your 4runner. And before that, your Avalanche. And before that your 4runner. At the time of each, they just had to be bought. Cool, subtle, muscle.


Your patience with them as they failed you was impressive. You put up with their failures in a stalwart manner. The latest being the Avalanche. The transmission dropped on the trip to Phoenix. Oil leaking into cylinder one. Breakdowns on the road with AAA tows. Sitting in dealerships. Trying to figure out cost-benefit futures. Our analysis of all the fixes, costs, dates, miles listed in columns to make a bet: Fix yet again or buy. And of course, I overanalyzed. You listened to options. You never complained. It just was and needed to be dealt with. At the end of the day, you set the direction by calling around. Lots of calls but then a lead: Another used car that was your perfect car.


This is how you rolled. Quietly putting up with the life you were given on the road. Adjusting with acceptance. Keeping your options open. Listening without fanfare. Finally, deciding and announcing with a bit of certainty, perhaps overly optimistic, but why not. It’s about belief. This is what I’m still learning from you.


We love you so much and don’t want your presence to fade. I’ll continue to lay in the dark and just think about you.


Dad

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