Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Kinderwagen

by Eric Ayars

It was February, 1999. I was a graduate student, trying to prepare my final defense. My wife had graduated the previous year, but the only job she could find in her field was a 3-hour drive away. She would take our car on Sunday night, work four tens, come back Thursday night. I got around on a motorcycle while she was gone.

At three AM one morning I got a phone call from Grandpa.
“Hey, I hear your wife's working out of town?”
“Yeah. . . What time is it?”
“Well, you need two cars if she's out of town.”
“. . . Three AM. . . I have a good motorcycle, Grandpa. It's what I ride when she's in town, and we really don't need another car!”
“Never mind that. You should have two cars. I'm coming out to get you one.”
“Well. . . see you when you get here. Good night. . .”

I woke up at a reasonable hour, poured myself a bowl of Cheerios, and started wondering about the funny dream I'd had. It seemed so real that I decided I'd better call Grandma and check; sure enough, she told me Grandpa had left at 3:30 that morning and should be there any time.

I still wasn't sure what I'd do with a second car, but he dragged me off to “Dealer Row” and started showing me Buicks. I gradually steered him towards the Honda lot hoping to find a used Civic that wouldn't break my fuel and insurance budget. They didn't have any used Civics, but as I passed this pretty Accord wagon I joked that it was the car we would get when we had kids.

Grandpa called the dealer over and wrote out a check on the spot.

Chinese food was always Grandpa's favorite, so I picked my jaw up off the floor and treated him to dinner at the best Chinese restaurant in town. My fortune cookie said “He who knows he has enough is rich” and I taped that slip of paper to the instrument panel. One week later, we discovered that we were expecting.

It's fall of 2011 now. My daughter is almost 12, the family has grown in size and number, and it's time for us to let this car go. It has served our family well, and we'll miss it. The fortune-cookie slip has been carefully removed from the instrument panel and is now in our family scrapbook next to the last picture of Grandpa. It's faded completely white, but even our youngest knows what it says.

I couldn't let the car go without a note, so I put this in the glovebox for the next owner.


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