Ave Atque Vale, Ford Van

 For the last five years, you showed heroic virtue, schlepping around eight kids, a million bags of groceries,  half a million bags of garbage, and the occasional panicked cat.  You accepted numerous unnamable spills onto your rubber mats without complaint, and didn’t even whimper when thrown up upon. 

For years at a time, you stored bags marked “donate,” never questioning my motives.  You even made the perfect getaway car when people who should know better drive by their brother’s porch and throw firecrackers at him. 

 Your back door is dented from the dark day I encouraged my husband to nudge us out of the mud with his own car; and your front end is twisted from innumerable miscalculations about the height and proximity of sidewalks.  Also, I hit a telephone pole once. 

A careless left turn makes your side doors silently swing wide open, and bungee cords only help a little.  My hall closet doesn’t have as many wire coat hangers as your exhaust system does. Your entire right side is crumbling like a cookie in a puddle of milk.  The fumes have become almost unbearable (although it’s nice to have some quiet in the back seat for a change), and when we go through a car wash, we all get wet. 

 The only area that looks fresh and new is your right rear window, which was replaced last year after I decided I would fit that ladder in the car if it killed me, slam, smash.

Urged to a speed over 38 miles an hour, your engine begins to heave and buck like a fat man choking on a fish bone.  One brake light and one turn signal are dead, and the other turn signal goes at a manic double-speed.  Your brakes failed utterly on the highway at least twice, but only when we were on vacation.  Actually, I can’t decide if that’s good or bad.  But I’m sure you meant well.

You saw us through the transition from “big family that people can’t stop making dumb remarks about” to “enormous family that leaves people speechless.”  Or maybe it’s just that your engine is so loud, we can’t hear them anymore.

Dear old van, you always start up on the second try.  Except when I leave the lights on all night. 

Farewell, beloved E-350.  I’m sorry we never came up with a better name for you.  I’m sorry we couldn’t manage to scrape the flaming skull decals off you.  I feel bad about that incident with the guardrail, and I wish I had changed your oil at least once. 

 If it’s any consolation, we can’t, in good conscience, sell you.  The only question that remains is:  would you rather be a clubhouse or a chicken coop?  Because you’re part of the family now, and that means you can never, never leave. 

By

Simcha Fisher is a cradle Hebrew Catholic, freelance writer, and mother of eight young kids. She received her BA in literature from Thomas More College in New Hampshire. She contributes to Crisis Magazine and Faith & Family Live!, and blogs at I Have to Sit Down. She is sort of writing a book.

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