Thursday, December 11, 2008

Something Old, Something New; the car my grandfather gave me was blue.

Just before my last post on this here blog, I took an empty garbage bag, and proceeded to fill it with bits and pieces from my car as I prepared it to be towed away the next day.

I knew the day had to come. After months of procrastination the battery had completely given up, which saw the vehicle never move from the one spot in the front yard. The tyres eventually completely hidden by the tall, lush grass that grew around it. The grass the gardeners avoided. All the while drawing more and more attention to itself - that phone call from the real estate agent was inevitable... and then it came, prompting me to finally do something about it.

So, finally I did.
"Hi. Just wondering if you are interested in a 1989 Ford Telstar."
"Sure. OK. We can take it."
"No. Tomorrow"
"What time?"
"4 o'clock."
"How about 9am?"
"OK. 9am tomorrow. See you then."
"OK. Bye."

Of course, in that brief conversation with Mr. I'll tow-you-car-away-24-hours-a-day-for-free, I provided my details and without even discussing it, accepted that I'd be getting nothing for the scrap metal gracing my front yard.

It was no longer worth anything much to me anyway. It's only value was sentimental. Something money has nothing to do with.

I had been involved in an accident late 2007. And whilst the other party was at fault, (his insurance company even agreed on that), the car was declared a write off after I was told to take it to the nominated panel beater to be repaired.

The repairs never happened and after a drawn out ordeal with the other person's insurance company - which included a number of frustrating phone conversations and a lack of assistance, with a dash of 'we're in no hurry to help our non-members' attitude - I got my car back, (in even worse condition than when I'd dropped it off), and eventually received a cheque for what they considered a fair price. I accepted it with a 'that's better than nothing' attitude and the case was closed.

There was not much I could've purchased with the amount they gave me so C and I spent $30 at the wreckers to at least get her back on the road without drawing too much attention to herself.

I let her rego lapse in May, not realising the new laws that prevented you from being able to be a little lazy with paying that bill/renewal for that large amount of money that always seems to come at a bad time. So that was that. It was no longer worth fixing. So she sat and sat.... and sat....

..until Tuesday, at 9am, when she was towed away to the wreckers.

(to be continued)

11:51am, Friday 12 December, 2008.

I was going to create a new post to finish this entry but decided it should remain as one.

I had to rush off to work last night, leaving my entry unfinished. I had not intended for the blog post to consist of as many words but I sort of went off on some tangent. My initial inspiration for writing about this event/experience was the process of cleaning out the car; post tow. Of course, this too was a part of the whole emotional reaction to a material object - so despite preferring to consider myself as someone who has not completely surrendered to the material world, there are certain things and luxuries that I enjoy and, whilst I may sometimes take them for granted, appreciate. Having a car, in itself, regardless of make and model, is still a luxury as far as I am concerned. This is a fact that I am realising even more so now that I am without one.

My grandfathers car was nothing special - on the outside anyway. It was a humble Ford Telstar hatch. It was an automatic. Given a cheque and a choice, it would not have been my pick of vehicles. However - it was reliable, had done very little kilometeres and had been looked after in every way. Best of all, it was free.

When my grandfather, (who is now almost 90), became too old and impaired to drive a motor vehicle he was reluctant to get rid of it and it just so happened that my Toyota had given up around the same time - so when the car was offered to me, I gracefully, and gratefully accepted. It omitted a lot of hassles.

I took every effort to look after that car out of respect for my grandfather. He would always ask me how the car was whenever we spoke and come out to see it when I would go and visit. It was almost sad. The car was kind of symbolic of a child that had left home. My grandfather was always a family man.

I felt awful when I had to tell him of the accident and the eventual outcome. Granted, it could have all been a lot worse - and I am truly grateful no one was hurt - but it was still disappointing to have to explain that the car was 'broken'. (He suffers from dementia so I am expecting he might ask me how the car is again at some point.)

So then it became me who was reluctant to get rid of the vehicle - for different reasons - however, both were ultimately sentimental.

On the topic of sentimental, the experience of cleaning out the car was very much that. As well as filling a garbage bag with genuine rubbish - (my pride in the upkeep of the car began to dwindle after the accident - plus the backseat was full of pop corn and other random bits and pieces from beach trips with the kids) - there were also lots of other things that I discovered. Cleaning one's car, room, cupboard or house - even sometimes just one drawer - can be an exercise that triggers many memories of people, places and things - past and present. Amongst the random findings in my car were photos, and words, of and from old lovers and friends. Piles of invites from various past exhibitions of mine in Melbourne and Sydney. Unidentified objects that were more than likely bits that had fallen or broken off bigger objects no longer in the car. And in the front console, which consisted of a tray and a box, I found a mini solar powered calculator, a mini swiss army knife, a shoe horn and a compass - all had belonged to my grandfather and were obviously travel essentials in his mind. They made me smile - especially the shoe horn. My car had become a time capsule.

I think what made the experience a little more emotional was the fact that 2 days prior, I had a dream that my grandfather passed away. I woke up feeling extremely sad.

I threw a lot out and only kept a few things - including my grandfather braces. I'll probably never have a use for them, but I just couldn't throw them away.


Kim said...

Simone, I know this experience had to test all of your emotions. You describe what happened so well, though and now I am wondering if you have some art which is inspired by the car or the experience you are going to share.

I suppose the only other thing you could have done is found a metal artist who would have created some kind of homage to your grandfather and the car. :)

Have a Great Day!

samm said...

okay, so you absolutely totally and utterly have to keep those braces. ignore everyone that tells you otherwise, they are important....
and the easiest and best way to get around the chat about "how's the car" with Grandpa is to "take advantage" of his dementia and take a little journey together down memory lane - get him to share some memories from the past about his travels in the car and you could tell him a favourite story or two from yours.... if he can't remember stories of the little blue car, maybe he'll be okay with stories from further back, of his first car, or of getting his driving licence.... you'll have a lovely time chatting and you won't upset him (or yourself) with the fact that the little blue one has moved on to where old cars go.
mcuh love xoxoxo