Wednesday, August 19, 2015

R.I.P. Old Betsy

I remember when Brooke and I got this car in August of 2008.  It was the first time I had ever had a brand new car.  The van was ordered just for us.  You might think that I would cringe at the thought of driving a mini van. Truth is, I was excited to do so.  I had always wanted to be a dad, and driving the van was evidence that I was playing that part.  While we had a lesser van at that point, meaning we would be "double vaning" it, my plan was that I would soon be driving my F-150.  This would make having a van in general, much more bearable.  Regardless, this was a great van. It had all the bells and whistles of the time, and it became a car we would grow to LOVE.

Both Baylor Grace and Hadley came home from the hospital in this van.  This van made so many trips to Irish dancing, soccer practice, gymnastic, school, work trips, ballet classes, grocery store, etc. It really was The Ayers Family Truckster.  Most importantly, we drove this van all over the country.  Road trips were such a big part of my childhood.  Some of my favorite childhood memories were being in the car and driving down the road with Patrick, Mom and Dad. Sometimes, I think Id give anything to do that just one more time.  I actually don't remember taking repeat trips with the same car.  For various reasons, the trip never changed, but the car always did.  Regardless, I loved that part of my childhood.  I so wanted to have that with my family.  I think this van provided the mode of transportation for so many of those great memories. We drove down to New Orleans, South Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Disney, Yellowstone and Northern Michigan.  So many amazing family memories happened in the van.  Memories I will cherish forever.  A lot of growth happened in the van too.  We discussed our likes and our dislikes.  Our fears and our dreams.  Yes, we sometimes argued, but we always made up.  We watched a ton of movies, ate a load of snacks,  and had to search for a ton of binkies.  They would always fall in the black hole of spots that all cars have.  Those spots that a normal sized hand couldn't fit into.  You ripped the skin off your knuckles, broke a finger or two, and lost fingernails, just to get that binky for your baby girl.  All while driving down the street.

Honestly, this van was part of our family.  Its easy to think I'm being dramatic, it is just a car, right?  Brooke accuses me (and Baylor Grace) of being hoarders.  Hoarders generally attached emotions to the most random objects.  There is some truth to Brooke's professional diagnosis.  I keep movie tickets, game tickets, programs, etc. because of the memories attached to those moments.  This car, represented those moments.

I really didn't mind when I eventually had to give up that F-150 because it was not practical in Chicago.  I was happy to get Brooke a shiny new van.  That meant I got Old Betsy.  Old Betsy was the name Caroline gave the car.  So here I am, driving the old, beat up van, that smells like a foot.  There were many jokes around work about the ESR driving the van.  It didn't bother me though, I believed it to be a symbol of something more important.  My job as a father, and the trips I loved to take with all the girls.

To top it all, it was paid off.  For two years I was driving a car that didn't cost any money every month.  But as time passed, and the miles piled up, the inevitable service work was coming.  I tried holding it off as long as possible, but I knew it was coming.  Father Time always wins. He wins with humans and cars.  I knew that there was about $3000 dollars worth of work that needed to be done just to keep her safe for the family.  I also knew that I didnt want to pump good money into a car with 100,000+ miles in it.  The time had come to trade her in.

Coach Bob Beatty was one of my mentors that really taught me a lot about life.  One of his lessons he told me early on, was that cars don't love you back.  People put all this money into their cars, and its a depreciating asset.  He is right, cars generally don't love you back.  However, I think this one was the exception.  Caroline was  seemingly the most sad to see Old Betsy go.  All the girls said goodbye to the car.  No other car will have the memories that this car had. It was a great time in all of our lives.

I realize that my girls really don't know how to get in and out of any car but a van.  They arent really sure about opening and closing car doors.  Every car they have had (that they can remember), has been the same height off the ground with automatic doors. Having something different is a whole new ballgame for them. I hope OB's new family, appreciates her as much as we did. We made some great memories in Old Betsy, but as Caroline said, now its time to make memories in New Betsy.