I looked at the little tag in the windshield of my mother's car the other day, the one that says when the next service is due. I had been paying lots of attention to the mileage, noting we were still several hundred miles from the "next service due at ..." number. This time I also paid attention to the recommended service date: April, 2008. Oh-oh! That meant it's been a year since the Passat had its oil changed. It's been making funny noises, too. Squeeky doors. Brake rubbing noises. Unexpected creaking in the steering. I guess I've been spoiled by years of Saturn service. I expected that when you take a car in for a safety check or routine service they would look at things like brakes and tell you if it was time to deal with them before you destroyed something significant. Nobody ever mentioned the turn signals that only work on manual ....
When the Passat went in for service this week I specifically asked the mechanic to change the windshield wiper blades, check the brakes, and estimate the repair cost of those leaking oil seals. The news was not good. $1000 in repairs to replace the leaky seals and the rear brakes. Mother almost cried when I told her.
Yesterday morning at breakfast she announced that she wanted to go "to the Ford place". She wanted to look at cars. She has always enjoyed driving Fords. Her first car, she told the salesman, was a Model T. She didn't add that it was practically new at the time. So we looked. She was enchanted with the little green 2008 Focus with its manual everything (except transmission) and its $4000 rebate. "It's a beautiful color!" she said. I could just hear Ray. "Bonnie P, you don't buy a car because of its color!"
"What do you have in used cars?" she asked. The salesman drove her around to look at a sage green 2006 Fusion, Ford's current mid-sized offering. It had lots more bells and whistles, lots more room, similar gas mileage, and would save her $2000. It was a lease return and had relatively low mileage, even for Hawaii.
"Will you take a trade-in?" They would take the Passat. "How much do I have to give you to hold the car for me?" For $100 she could take the car of her choice home today. Several hours later, and well within her original budget, we left the Ford dealership in the Fusion. It's taking time getting used to turn signals that really work, to brakes that stop without rubbing, to a trunk where things are out of sight, and to the different size and shape of this vehicle. It's not too big, about the same as the Passat, but feels like it sits higher. She is happy. I am thankful.
The new picture at the top of this page? That's Sarah's Quilt, the one I made for her to take to art school last summer. It's hanging on the railing of my deck in Groveland. There's still some basting in place, but the bright colors reminding me of Budhist dancers in Bhutan are all there. It reminds me of Sarah and her youthful outlook. Keep happy, Sarah.
Look for the positives -- even in the message that your vehicle needs $$$$$ repairs. Give thanks. Don't forget to pray.