Goodbye Big Brother

It was his last day with us. After spending several years with our family, that feels like a lifetime, we had to say goodbye to him. As we were driving him to his destination, my son, who actually grew up with him, lovingly said, “Goodbye big brother.”

But before you feel terribly sad, I am just talking about our car.

Our family car, a Honda SUV, was getting old. We bought it 11 years ago, and took it home a few days before my son was born. In fact it was brand new when my newborn son rode home in it from the hospital. We were still living in Florida at that time. We rode in it when we moved to Iowa, and kept it all these years.

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In this day and age that many people change cars as often as they change their clothes, it is hard to get attached to a car. But I guess we are different. Though I read a recent article that due to slower US economy, many Americans are keeping their cars longer.

My father, when we were in the Philippines, kept our family car, a Ford Cortina, for more than 20 years. We drove it until it cannot run anymore (see previous post here). Come to think of it, we got it when I was 2 years old, and I even used it to take my girlfriend, my eventual wife, on a date. Too bad my son will not have the chance to take his “big brother” dating.

Back to our Honda, we drove it to parks, markets, church, school, office, hospital, gym, concerts. music practice, birthday parties, weddings, and funerals.  We have taken it on vacations, camping, hiking, and long road trips. From the urban jungle of New York City to the wilderness of Wyoming. From sunny roads of Florida to the snowy highways of Minnesota, and many other states in between. We even drove it out of the US to Canada, from Niagara Falls to Quebec.

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It did not just carry us to places and destinations, but it also carried our stuff, like our luggage, tents, bikes, and other equipments. It even carried our Christmas trees every year from the tree farm to our home. Yes, it carried a ton load of memories.

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But after 11 years of faithful service and with almost 170,000 miles, one day a warning indicator light went off. We brought it to the local car dealer, and after doing diagnostics, they told us that it needed a new transmission and some other parts that need to be replaced. And how much would that cost us? $7000 in total. Ouch!

Then we asked the dealer how much can we trade it in for? We were told that it was valued at about $3000. And the value will not increase even if we have it repaired. Are you kidding me? It would be more expensive to repair it than to trade it in! Where’s the logic in that?

That’s when we decided that it is time to let it go. “Let it go, let it go! Can’t hold it back anymore…(ala Disney’s Frozen)…..Let it go, let it go, you’ll never see me cry.” Sorry I got carried away.

It was cold and blustery that night. We parked it in the dealer’s parking lot. I took a final photo of it with my kids. After doing our final silent “ceremony” with it, we said goodbye to our car.

As we were driving away, I looked at the rear view mirror and took a last glance of it as we left it there in the cold. I felt a certain sadness. I swear, I thought it waved goodbye back.

But the sadness was mixed with excitement, as I hear the roar of the engine of our new playmate. Vroooom!

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Hello there!

 

 

Our Family Car

I have a fond memory of our family car in the Philippines, the one and only one we had owned. It was a 1969 white Ford Cortina, Mark II 1600 GT, 4 door sedan. It had black synthetic leather interior trim, black front grille, and shiny chrome front and back bumpers. It was a handsome car in its heyday.

I don’t remember exactly when my father brought it home, for I was just a toddler at that time. However, I have childhood to young adulthood memories on that car. I remember when we were still young, we will fit 2 families (4 adults and 6 kids) in it. Cars have no built-in seatbelts yet at that time. We went to school, church, work, vacation spots, picnics, weddings, baptisms, funerals, fiestas, and visit relatives in the province with it. That car did not just brought us places, it brought us to destinations.

Even when it was getting old, my father did not trade it in. One reason is that money was tight. But perhaps the other reason was that we grew in love with it. When you call a car by name, we called it ‘Puti’,  it becomes a part of the family. And when it started to have problems due to the sheer age of it, my uncle who was an auto mechanic who lives down the street, kept it going. Believe it or not, we used it for more than 20 years. We drove it around until we drove it aground.

When my father died, I inherited Puti. I was 20 years old, and it was 18. Even though I did not use it everyday, for I prefer to use public transportation, it was still of service to me. Perhaps the reason I don’t use it so much, was most of the time, we need to push it for it to start, just like a race car. I remember when I had 4 medical school classmates of mine rode in my car one day. It so happened that it stalled. So I asked my classmates to give it a push to make it start again. They were all ladies. If you can just imagine the shame I withstood that day.

I also remember that I crashed Puti in an accident. I was driving with my family, and we were passing a narrow street with lots of children playing, when a cockroach flew inside my open window and landed in my neck. In my panic, I swerved sharply and hit a parked jeepney. Nobody was seriously hurt except my ego and the cockroach which I killed (nampuchang ipis!). Good thing it only caused minor damages to our car and very minimal dent on the bumper of the parked jeepney.

I also used that car to take my girlfriend (who is now my wife), on a date. I recall on a certain date, I parked it outside a restaurant. Since I parked it on a steep street, and the handbrake was broken, so I asked my date, to step on the brake pedal while I place a stone to wedge under the tire to prevent it from rolling. At least I did not make my date to push start the car! It also on 2 occasions caused my girlfriend’s stockings to run when it got caught in a rough patch of the seat which is peeling . My car may not be running perfectly but it was making other things run – like stockings and people pushing it!

When I left for the US, we gave Puti to my auto mechanic uncle, for he’s the only one who can make it run some more anyway. I learned he took out the engine and placed it in his jeep. The body perhaps was taken to a junk yard and was recycled into something more useful. I wonder how many tin bottle caps came from our recycled car. I still have lots of memories of it though, that I will recycle to my children, and even to my children’s children.

In 2003, I went back to the Philippines. When I rode my uncle’s jeep he gladly informed me that it was still our car’s engine that was under his hood. I was amazed that it was still running after all these years. Flashback of our old car flooded my memory, as I felt Puti’s soul welcomed me back home.