My truck and my wife quit in the same week. Can you believe that? That old Chevy had been with me since October of 1989. The old…the old…uh…uh…my beautiful wife has been with me since...uh…for a little bit longer!
I lacked four months getting 20 years from the truck. It carried me a little over 279,000 miles. Most of them pretty smooth. Josh was 14 when I wheeled up into the yard in the shiny new vehicle. Jesse had just turned 12.
"Take us for a spin, dad.”
“Can we ride in the back?”
“Can I crank it up and pull down the driveway?”
“Let’s load up the four-wheeler go to the sand hills.”
Cathy didn’t ask that many questions or make any demands the first year we were married. She seemed to be perfectly happy and content. She hardly cringed when we turned off the pavement and headed down the small dirt road toward the tumbling down house where we were fixing to spend our first year together. She cooked breakfast in the early days. And she thought I was young, handsome and debonair.
I thank my lucky stars for both. The truck just kept going and going and going. I figured there was no need to replace it as well as it performed. I didn’t care to “keep up with the Joneses” in the automobile fashion society that some folks get sucked into. I was trying to get from point A to point B. I didn’t care about buckets seats, back up cameras, surround sound or GPS systems. I had a Faron Young tape and I counted the times that I got lost as “road adventures.” Besides, I worry about those people that have got to know exactly where they are at all times!
Cathy needed less maintenance than the truck. You talk about keeping on keeping on! She went about the job of wife and mother with the quiet resolve of a woman who was at peace with herself and the world. Amid the screaming and chaos wrought amongst living with three strong-willed and stubborn males she stayed the course. I marveled at her patience. Her boys, to this very day, rise up and call her blessed. And listen, she can make lasagna that will melt in your mouth. She’s out-lasted three washing machines. And I only have to vacuum when company was coming on short notice. ’Course, she would remind you a little of that big V8 engine when she sat down to eat.
The Chevrolet salesman allowed the truck would last me 10 years if I cared to keep it that long. “This is the best pickup on the market today. It is by far the toughest, will haul the biggest payload, got plenty of room in the cab and has the smoothest ride of any vehicle in its class. It has the best warranty in the business and it is backed by the solid reputation of General Motors.”
Cathy’s mother gave me no such high-falutin' encouragement or any type of guarantee whatsoever. Cathy’s grandfather was downright mean about it. He didn’t deem me worthy. Her “friends and family” at the church, even as we were exchanging “I do’s,” were definitely kicking my tires and peering under my hood. They weren’t sure their favorite “daughter” was getting the Cadillac Coupe Deville of husbands.
My favorite truck just wore out. My favorite wife said 35 years in the classroom was enough. Both came as a shock to me. I just assumed Cathy would teach forever. And I put a brand new set of Michelins on that truck just a year ago. It was a double whammy as both “gave me the news” in the same week! I would have accused them of conspiring against me but I knew them too well. Cathy wants to spend more time with our growing herd of grandchildren. The pickup didn’t feel compelled to explain or elaborate.
It was the first time that truck ever let me down. If you don’t count the time the alternator caught on fire just this side of Sopchoppy. And I did have to replace the starter once. Cathy, of course, has never disappointed me. Her granddaddy was right all along.
I should have had a clue. The warning signs had been popping up from time to time. The truck groaned and coughed a little more than usual. It smoked like an old coal burning freight train when it first cranked up in the mornings. It didn’t show the same pep that it once did. It would make little knocking sounds as it approached 65 mph. You couldn’t keep oil in it. The seats were cracked and fading. And the red brake light on the dash had been flashing for the past 6 months. Cathy’s warning signs were about the same.
Life is full of adjustments. I bought a new vehicle. It doesn’t wear yet like my old truck, but these relationships take time. Cathy has left for a “sabbatical” with “the kids” in Tennessee. She does call almost every night to remind me to eat, pay the electric bill and water her flowers.
I am more fortunate than most. The truck chugged along year after year with nary a compliant. Cathy basically did the same. Both were extremely loyal. Both put my interests way above their own. They hung with me through thick and thin. My love for either never faded. They made life more comfortable, more enjoyable and worth getting up each morning for.
And let me quickly add, lest I offend some ladies auxiliary group or the WMCA in Topeka, that in no way here am I trying to equate a truck, no matter how faithful and true, to my beloved wife. They are not even close to being the same. I traded one of them in for a newer model.