“”Respect the van”….. I would kiddingly often tell my sons. They would roll their eyes, and say, “yes Mom..we know.” It always made me smile to think of the van, and how we all seemed to have a love/hate relationship with it. It was after all a mini van, and not to dis minivans..but generally it does not seem to be be on the top 10 list dream vehicles for anyone to want. They are functional, and we needed one, but our needs were very specific as well. This not so lovely bright red van was equipped with a mechanical wheelchair ramp with which we could roll my daughter in and out with great ease. We, with deep pride termed it “the handi-crap van.” I know I have used this term for handi-crap humor as well. It’s decidedly not a politically correct term, nor was it ever meant to be. It is useful to realize that the van has seen its share of crap though the years. If it could speak, oh the stories it would tell. Wait a minute….I do declare that I shall be the voice of the van, and tell her tales because she has witnessed many a journey with the Brandon clan..and I think she needs to be heard…because after all, she has been loyal, and true through the years, and she has things to say! If I don’t speak for the van than who will I ask you..who?
Perhaps I may have watched the movie, “Cars” one too many times, and now I feel the need to give my van a voice? Maybe I’m certifiable, and should be locked up presently, and the key should be tossed away…who can say for sure? None the less…today the van speaks…. Bianca loved her van, and it always made her feel incredibly excited when I would lower the ramp, and wheel her over to it. She would kick her little legs, and screech…the anticipation of an adventure was ever present with this dear girl. When we would be out walking, I would strap stuffed animals all over the van, then we would come perilously close to crashing into them, and she would giggle crazily..it was great. My good friend Linda came over one day, and needed to borrow the van. It was only when she returned home, that she and I realized that Elmo and possibly JJ the jet plane had been trapped on the rear window under the wiper blade . I’m quite surprised that we were not cited for cruel and unusual punishment to stuffed animals! We live in Colorado after all..and all creatures great and small have rights…even those stuffed with fluff. Linda and I chuckled about this….Remember in “Toy Story” when all the stuffed animals had voices? I realize now that I may have to start watching more adult shows, and listening to “grown up” music, and not just “Veggie Tales.”
My friend Cindy was at the grocery store one day, and as she was either putting Bianca back in, or taking her out, a man asked her if she wanted to go skiing, or if she liked it? She,..being quite taken aback..said…”well..sure,” and then felt quite purplexed as to the question. It was a bit later that she realized that the bumper sticker on the back of my van reads….”ski naked..it adds color to your cheeks.” Ooohhhh, she realized, now I m getting this. We laughed about this at great length…oh van..how you do entertain us!
I also remember one time I was parked in handicrap parking at King Soopers, our local grocery chain, and in some cruel and unusual twist of fate, when I put up the rear door of the van..it somehow got caught on the handicap sign for parking. “Are you freaking kidding me?” I thought…..Believe me,the irony was not lost on me as I tried to dislodge the rear door from the sign, scratching, and bending the door a tad…oops…it wasn’t my fault, I promise you..poor van got a “boo boo.”
Years ago, I want to drop Logan off at a friends’ house. He was in middle school..(oh joy…) don’t miss those days that much😁, and as he opened the sliding door to the ramp, and then proceeded to leap out to freedom from the van, and the all seeing eye of his Mother, I left him with a lovely parting greeting, and he slammed the door shut with such intent…or um, anger..fury..rage..adolescent misunderstanding that he wrenched the door clean off the track…not an easy feat I might add, then of course tried to ram it shut lest I not realize how pissed he was, and it made a horrible grinding noise..and I said..”STOP!!!!!”… It was grinding up the side window glass, and carving up the side of the van….I was so so not happy with him…..poor ole van still hides these battle scars along her midriff…(don’t we all?)…a little paint, and she looked good as almost new…..not really.
Then came the best part of the van…How it became our house on wheels, or rather a living room for the open road. There have been numerous trips up to Toronto, Lake Joseph, Portland…and also Gresham…Phoenix…….Orange County..I may have also neglected to mention some of our destinations, and if so, I do apologize for these spots not receiving at least an honorable mention…She has travelled far and wide, and she has seen much in her travels. She has witnessed pillow fights, many spilt beverages, stinky diapers, Pediasure tube feelings that have gone array…mashed food ground into the lovely not so plush grey carpeting…and yet still she stands..proud and reliable. We used to make a bed on the floor of the van using floatations mattresses covered with multiple layers of sleeping bags…and Bianca would lay there, sometimes me beside her, and sometimes her Daddy. Zach and Logan would play video games on the big screen for a van type TV. A variety of fast food drive throughs have greeted the van on our multiple family type excursions. We have imported and exported many items…not illegal ones…just interesting ones is all I’m prepared to divulge….and with that being said…the van is just really one of the family. How does a person part with such memories? I know not…. Only that I’m thankful for her perserverence, her service…Will another family believe in her, and love her like we do…?… Possibly, but I think not. I find it interesting how I can take for granted the most reliable, quiet, ever present type of things in life, never realizing that their quiet service and dedication have made my life, our lives better..more full, and so I say..Ode to the minivan…evermore shall she grace famililies with her presence…carefully and lovingly she will carry those multiple car seats, strollers, joggers, bicycles, wheelchairs, groceries, vomit, left over food, spilled drinks, angry arguments, tons of laughter, sleeping kids, exhausted adults….long may she reign… We love you minivan..you made our lives easier, and today we say thank you for your gift of service to our family…and I know to so many others. If we could present you with a metal we would.
Memories….they are with us..we find comfort in them. Seemingly non important mechanical things can beseech us to hold onto them. Things I never would have given another thought to, become sacred, treasured. I have taken much for granted I realize this far in my life. I have so many blessings. I have known supreme happiness, joy and contentment, and much pure love, and I have also known hatred, intense anger…devastating loss and despair. This is life…not easy…but it’s what we’ve got..it’s all we know. We need each other such as we are…and are lives are full because of one another and our seemingly unimportant mechanical loyal compadres. In this last photo, what resonates with me is that the last farwell of the “Bonkees ” van carried balloons…her favorite, they always brought her such joy. Especially when I attached them on her chair, then opened my window..just a little, and they would fly about the van with complete and utter abandon, and freedom. They were an evocative image to me of just letting go, getting caught up in the moment, not looking ahead, just enjoying the wildness of that time..that space. Not that Im worshipping the van…but I have a fondness and love for her as if she were a person and did in fact have feelings.