Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Missing A Generous Soul

If I had to write a companion piece to this post about my most recent car, it would not be as nostalgic and sad as the previous post was.  Instead of being titled "Obituary for a Friend," it would be more likely titled, "Don't Let the Garage Door Hit You on the Way Out."  Whereas my first Saturn was such a reliable and trouble-free car for most of its life, my second Saturn was a problem car and has soured me on ever buying a car from Carmax again.  I owned my first Saturn for ten years and she was mine.  This latest Saturn only made it four years, and I still owed $1,683.00 when she decided to give up the ghost.  She had brake problems, air conditioning problems, radiator problems, and transmission problems.  There is no love lost between us.

About a week ago I was driving home from work when my "Service Engine Soon" light came on.  The car seemed okay, but I figured I should have it checked out.  The next day I was going to drive it to my mechanic, but it started jerking when it shifted, so I decided to call a tow truck through my roadside assistance program with Progressive.  The tow truck driver pulled my car out of the driveway and behind the tow truck and all of a sudden I heard this weird wooshing noise and noticed that the entire contents of my car's transmission fluid had leaked on to the street in front of our house (so thankful it didn't do that in our driveway).

Anyway, I knew the repairs would be expensive, and they were going to come to at least $1,300.  I already owed the nearly $1,700 on the car, and I've been wanting to get a new vehicle anyway because we don't like driving my car on long trips anymore because it is unreliable.  I decided to just buy a new car.

Happily, Mom has left us kids some money.  We hope that after medical costs and taxes are taken care of that each of us will wind up with about $60,000 - $70,000.  We aren't divvying out the money until after tax time.  However, my sister, who has a lot of debt, already borrowed some of her share.  With my car dead, I asked my siblings if it was okay if I borrowed some of my share to put a down payment on a car.  Because I am trustee over Mom's trust, I decided it might be good if each child got $10,000 of their share.  We know even with taxes and medical expenses we can afford to give that much to each of us.

It's been such a blessing.  My sister and her husband can pay off some of their debts; I can get my car; my other sister and her husband can use some of it as they prepare to move into a new house; and my brother and his wife can use some of their share to pay for wedding and mission costs for their two sons.

What make me so happy is that Mom would be delighted by that.  Mom (and Dad) were both very generous.  There is not one of us children who has not benefited from their generosity, either in life or in death.  Both of my parents made sure we had money for school, missions, when we were struggling financially, etc.  Mom was always taking us kids and grandkids out to lunch; she freely donated to charities (which actually started to get a bit out of control when her dementia got worse); and she wouldn't think twice about lending any of us a hand if we needed it.

In fact, when I bought my last Saturn (the one that just died), both she and Jonah (also a very generous soul) helped me with my down payment at a time when I wasn't doing so well financially.  I remember when my car was broken into, Mom felt so upset about it, she offered to pay for my window.  I was doing much better financially at the time, so I declined.  Mom insisted, but I held her off, knowing that her dementia, which had progressed quite a bit by then, would cause her to forget about it, which she did.  But just the fact that she wanted to pay for it shows the kind of woman Mom was.

Mom was such a generous and thoughtful person, something I've seen passed down to my sisters, particularly.

In my search for a new car (and I decided to go completely new because this last car has soured me on used even though my first car was used and was terrific) I narrowed it down to Hyundai and Honda.  I looked at Toyota and Mazda as well, but was not overly impressed with either the cars or the salesmen.  Both the Hyundai Sonata and the Honda Accord drove really well, and both salesmen were great and low-pressure.  Ultimately, based on research, advice from friends who are familiar with both cars, and the driving of the cars themselves, I ended up getting the Accord.  I actually felt bad for the Hyundai salesman because we really liked him and found him honest and interested in us as people, not just consumers.  But the Honda felt right, and I am glad I got it.

It's hard to tell from the pictures because they were taken at night, but the car is silver.  It drives like a dream.  I've never owned a new car before, and it drives smoother than anything I've ever driven except maybe a rental car.

It also has a lot of technological gadgets that I don't especially need, but I guess cars come with them now - things like a rear view camera, hands-free phone system, duel climate control, fuel economy tools, cruise control, etc.  It's a great car, and I'm really happy with it (although still nervous to drive it because it's still so new), and I hope it lasts me years and years and years.

It's a 2014, and I got a great deal on it: $21,500 plus a three year maintenance package and a security package if the car is ever stolen.

Being a bit of a cheapskate, I feel weird spending that much money on myself, and I don't like the idea of being in debt, so I'll be glad when the rest of the inheritance money kicks in so I can pay the car off (as well as my student loan).  I'm so glad that even in death, Mom is still helping us out with her generosity.

As I was signing the car documents, it felt odd to think that just four years ago, almost to the day, Mom was with me when I was signing my documents for the Saturn.  She was still driving, still independent, still in fairly good shape, although certainly on the decline.

Now, four years later, she's gone.  Well, not really gone.  But I sure do miss her.

I mentioned yesterday on Facebook that I was really missing her, and that even though I knew things would get easier one day, right now it is still hard.

This morning I found a note from one of Mom's best friend's daughter.  It said, "I saw your post...about your mom. I thought maybe I should tell you a little about a dream I had about a week ago. .....I was at my parents' house, you and I were talking in the road. Your mom came out of her house, gave you a hug and said 'I just wanted you to know that I am happy.' 

As I read it, I really did feel like it was a message from Mom telling me that even though I am sad she's gone, she's in a good place and doing well, and that I don't need to hang on to that sadness.  But, as Sally Field's character says in Steel Magnolias, "Shelby, as you know, wouldn't want us to get mired down and wallow in this. We should handle it the best way we know how and get on with it. That's what my mind says, I just wish somebody would explain it to my heart."

It's going to take some time.  I'm just glad Mom is still with me.

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