I just went through a traumatic event of epic proportions two weeks ago. It was some news that I knew was coming; but then I’d been pushing it to the back of my mind. So when my brother-in-law, Sam, called me with the news that he’d sold the car we gave him three years ago, I turned to a ball of mixed emotions. I went from anger to sadness in less than a minute. So many memories were attached to Pookie that no other car we have owned before or since can ever match.
Pookie Red, as she was affectionately called, was the first almost new car that my husband and I owned as a couple. She’d had 10,000 miles on her when we went to pick her up in Indiana barely a year old. She was a bright and glossy red, thus her moniker. Pookie represented many firsts for us. She was our first car payment, our first exposure to other parts of this beautiful country, our first real investment. What Sam could never understand, (cause college students really don’t get nostalgia), is that Pookie was more than just a car, she was a catalyst for our memories.
We flew into O’Hare airport and drove to Indiana to pick her up. A friend of our former Pastor owned a car dealership and literally blessed us with Pookie. Suffice it to say, I haven’t heard a testimony like ours when it came to getting a car. I saw snow for the first time while up there picking up Pookie. A light flurry had started one early morning, and I ran outside in my PJ’s trying to mimic some scene from a movie. I danced around a bit, tasted the coldness on my tongue and ran back indoors.
Pookie took us on many a trip, including the one back from Indiana. Passing through many states on the way back home. We drove her to Tennessee a few years in a row and enjoyed her ability to hug the mountainous roads and country scene. She made her way to Virginia one summer and took us from country to city with ease. There wasn’t a ditch that Pookie couldn’t conquer and her 4 wheel drive saved us a lot on the wear and tear.
Pookie was the car we used to take our late pet, Beau, to the vet and trips to the park. Pookie’s spacious back space was where he’d be able to slobber and shed all the hair he’d like. Beau appreciated her ability to cushion the brakes and turns. When we finally let Beau get in the back seat area, all you would see is slobber streaming all down the back window and door from him sticking his head out. It was always a chore to get Pookie back in shape after those trips.
Pookie taught us responsibility. She wasn’t a jalopy with windows that didn’t go up or an ignition that started with anything you stuck in it. She was new, she was fresh, and she was ours. We knew a car like her merited the best. So weekly car washes and mid-level gas was the norm the first few years. She was the first investment that we were able to pay off. Seeing a car title in our names was momentous for a young couple who hadn’t really owned anything in their name.
Paid Her Forward
It came a day when Pookie was on her second to last leg. We had truthfully outgrown her charm and her candy apple red was now fading to a pinkish tinge. I was prepared to trade her in, until we realized that Sam, Eddy’s youngest brother, would probably do well with a car heading into his first year at Florida International University. She would be his on one condition–that he completed senior year with at least a 3.0 gpa. I had no qualms with trading her in. At the time, he was failing Spanish and not taking that connection between high school and college too serious. Serves him right, I thought, to see her carted off as a trade. Needless to say, Sam made the 3.0 gpa on the nose and we transferred the title to him. I don’t even want to know what new memories took place with Sam and Pookie Red. He changed her name to Pink Range Rover, an ode to her dimming color. I didn’t care for it. She would always be Pookie Red to me. His FIU student sticker would join my old one on her rear window. Just seeing how much the sticker logo had evolved was a quick reminder of how much change was taking place even on that level. Sam would call every now and then with some story about Pookie huffing and puffing through the streets, barely hanging on. I’m sure he prayed plenty of nights driving from work on Miami Beach to FIU South campus (a twenty-mile ride). Eddy and I would remind him that it was indeed a rite of passage in our culture to have one broke down car in life. It built character and perseverance we’d say in our “elder” tone. Pookie was that car for him. We’d laugh after one of his calls, remembering our own stories. “Welcome to the real world,” we’d say. I’m sure Sam really didn’t want to experience the real world in a car that didn’t have a working AC at one point, or windows that randomly decided not to go back up. Pookie was our way of teaching him life lessons that every child and young adult should be given the gift of learning: that nothing in life comes without work and that endurance through the thick and thin is the true measure of a man.
Sam had reached the end of the line with Pookie and had been hinting that her days were numbered. I secretly prayed that she would hold on just a bit longer. We certainly didn’t want him biting off more than he could chew with car payments. I even wanted Eddy to get Pookie back. Eddy laughed reminded me that we gave the boy Pookie and we can’t legally get back a car that was no longer ours. My brain kept ticking anyway, trying to find a loophole in Florida car title laws. The day would come when he would text a picture of his new car love. I wanted to say goodbye. He would then tell me she was dropped off with nary a look back. I tried to find a nasty finger emoticon as my response to him. I was that miffed. How could he just leave her at a strange garage, alone without her family? How could he just turn his back on her? Then my anger melted into sadness. I always felt comforted knowing that Sam was taking care of her, and I use the term “care” very loosely. To him she was a ride to and from, falling apart along the way. Yet, she was still with us.
Her Gift To Me
Pookie will be that constant reminder that seasons in our life will come and go. That memories should be cherished, however fleeting they may be. That those valuable lessons learned are meant to be passed on from one generation to the next. I was happy to see her go to Sam, because we knew that she would also teach him lessons in patience and humility. We knew that for the three years he had her, he would know that good things would come to those who waited.
I’m happy that God saw fit for a perfect stranger to bless us with Pookie these many years ago. Our benefactor has since gone on to meet Jesus, but his decision to take a chance on a young couple has reverberated ten fold. It’s his action, like many others, that taught my husband and I, the beauty of paying it forward; that taking a chance on others does reap untold blessings.
I’m going to miss the old girl. Goodbye Pookie Red…