That saves a life

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March 2010

Just browsing through Craigslist. Nothing particular in mind. Maybe see whats in the old automobile section. Maybe there’s an old Jeep to take the mind into another realm.

There it is! A 1947 Willys CJ2A. Blue, just like the one dad had. $1500 firm, rebuilt engine, otherwise stock and in very good condition. At least that’s what the ad said. Send off an email requesting photos of the critical stuff. What’s the frame look like? Is this thing in good enough shape to justify sinking some real money into? With four kids to feed, college educations to pay for and really, how much time do you have to spend on a project like this? Still, what price sanity? After three years of watching your world slowly fade away. Can you afford NOT to do this? What would SHE say? Literally, the only person whose opinion ever really mattered? And, does it even matter now?

She’s dead. And all those dreams the two of you had, up in smoke. Is there really any point to living now anyway? But, there are four kids. Her dream. Maybe not yours, but you didn’t have any dreams anyway. Before she came along. Life began when she appeared. Is it over now? Checking out now is not an option. You signed on for this life. Because she was worth it. ANYTHING she wanted was worth it. And it still is. But that means raising these kids. And doing anything less than all you possibly can to make that dream a success is unacceptable. But, there’s a grief hanging over you that needs an outlet. A distraction. And maybe, just maybe, this little blue Jeep can get you from here to that place where life isn’t such an unbearable responsibility.

Some people would label what I went through as depression. But it’s not. Grief is something in another whole realm of emotion. Joan Didion wrote a book titled The Year of Magical Thinking after her husband passed away suddenly. I highly recommend it. But I suspect it’s completely unintelligible to someone who hasn’t personally experienced such an event. It spoke to me as if it were written just for me. Except my year was really more like ten.

I’ve always been told I’m kinda moody. And it’s true. But there was no blackness in my life, the way I’ve heard people describe depression. I’ve most certainly never been suicidal. Merely one who spends a lot of time contemplating life. What’s it all about and why are we here? But I’ve always had interests and hobbies. In fact I’ve always been very engaged in life. Music, books, wood and metal working. I wrote an entire CAD program just to teach myself a programming language. No realm of study or adventure in thought or skill was unworthy of examination to me. I’m something of a jack of all trades and, most definitely, a master of none. Still, life has always been interesting to me. At least until Liz died.

She took all of my zest for life when she left this world. No doubt that was because, on an emotional level, I truly only felt complete when she entered my life. That may sound like a codependent relationship but it wasn’t. Meeting, falling in love, and marrying her set me free, rather than caging me in as codependent relationships tend to do. She was the most complete human I’ve ever known. Together we built a functional family life while maintaining as much individual autonomy as possible while raising four children. I would hold up the success of all four of my children as proof that we did as well as any family could hope to do. Given that she died before the youngest was even a teenager I think the foundation that we built together speaks for itself. Are they perfect? Hell no! But they’re making a life for themselves in a pretty damn dysfunctional world. And they’re doing it as sensible, sane human beings that I’m extremely proud of. While my relationship with them hasn’t always been stellar, it improves with each passing year.

Anyway, I bought the Jeep. And spent about half a years worth of college tuition and four years of on and off evenings and weekends restoring it. Here’s what it looked like on the day my granddaughter took it for a spin:

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The connection to my past and my future is complete. And I think, maybe for the first time in over ten years that I’m actually excited about what’s on the horizon.

Thank you for your time.

Written by

father, motorcyclist, old retired guy who’s just a little lost on a blue marble corkscrewing its way to oblivion

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