The year was 1970. My dad and mom went car shopping and came home with an Oldsmobile Delta 88. It was a big boat of a car. Eventually that car was gifted to me as a college sophomore and was the car that Jackie and I took on our honeymoon drive after we were married on June 11, 1982. One memory we have is that the timing chain of the car broke down on our “honeymoon” drive down to the University of Florida where I was admitted as a law student. We had to spend a couple of days in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, before our car was fixed by a one-man service station owner, gas pumper, mechanic and car salesman before our journey could continue.
The year was 1985. I had just gotten a position as an associate attorney with the Palm Beach law firm of Stewart, Call, Byrd and Rozelle. We needed to move from a one car family to a two car family and we took the then “big step” of buying a Chevy Cavalier. Eight days after buying the car, a thunderstorm with accompanying hail came through and peppered our new car. The resulting dimples were fixed, but we were reminded that day that a car is a just a thing. Or is it?
The year was 2003. We had moved into New Lenox, Illinois, on August 15, 1995, with the calling to start a new church. New Life Church was built by God and we were glad witnesses. In the summer before a special family trip, we decided to invest in a new car.We bought a Mercury Sable station wagon. For the last ten years, that car became my “third” office. We recently had to make the decision to not “invest” anymore in the car in recognition of the 175,000 miles that were driven. As we turned away from that car, it was clear that it was not just a car. It was a touch stone for memories.
I remembered family trips where we listened to the latest Harry Potter books on tape and the miles seemed to go just a little faster. I remembered three hour trips between New Lenox and Grand Rapids where I listened to worship music or was inspired by sermons or made numerous phone calls. I remembered finding that family time in the car was one of the key places where our family shared life and laughter. The car was also the one that went for countless hospital visits, funeral home memorial services and even trips to the cemetery.
As I drove the Sable station wagon one last time, I just pulled off I-80 and at the same time another vehicle came alongside. I had to do a double take. The other vehicle was the New Life Church box truck that I had also driven numerous times. It was as if two old horses were going to walk one more time – together. I know it’s just a car and I know it was just a truck, but in the moment memories were brought to the surface.
Maybe you wonder why someone is sentimental about some object. Maybe you also understand that the object can be a carrier for memories. The object can be a reminder that God works in history and through history and even through cars and car rides. Maybe that is why my dad named that 1970 Oldsmobile Delta 88.