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» Tuesday, August 07, 2018
Tale of the Car: The Bittersweet Final Chapter
Yes, I'm still alive.

However, I'm still recovering from an emotional tailspin that's been a nightmare.

The foley catheter that James had inserted after the urodynamics test on June 26 was defective in some manner and kept disconnecting from the leg bag. He had to come home from work one day, and, because he sits off in an area with no one else around, went through another day with the damn thing popping off about a dozen times. That Thursday he called Kaiser urology, but they couldn't get him in. They told him if he felt it needed to be changed, he needed to go to...guess where: Urgent Care. So we did that on Friday afternoon after taping the catheter output to the leg bag with electrical tape.

The tech they had put the catheter in was not experienced at it. By Saturday afternoon, July 14, it went sour. James called me about 3 p.m., after walking out of his club meeting in terrible pain. I asked if he felt capable of driving to Urgent Care at Towne Park (he was about three or four miles away) and he said yes. So he went there and I went to drive to meet him. I was nearly there when I had to slow down for traffic. It proceeded forward and then had to stop again, but I reacted three seconds too slowly and rear-ended someone. Alice and Ken came to rescue me, but amazingly the car was driveable even though the hood was bent up and the grill broken and the A/C quit working. In fact, according to the HUM device plugged into the car, all the systems (battery, coolant, engine, transmission, etc.) were working perfectly. I drove it home (with Alice as co-pilot) and ironically they were going to take me back up to Urgent Care, but James was on his way home. They had to put in a new catheter (and this time they did it correctly). We need to have a big, big talk with Urololgy or someone at Kaiser. This is the second time we've had a foley put in at Urgent Care and it's gone bad.

I had a big bruise on my left shoulder where the seat belt caught me and I ached all over for a while, but the biggest ache was in my heart because I hit someone. (The lady wasn't hurt.) I've never hit another car in my life. And I knew Nationwide would want to total the car. Even though I've taken such good care at it, and even coddled it after the bridge collapse on I-85 last year, and the seats and the interior still look brand new, the body work would be a bear. I did take it to my mechanic and he said he knew a fairly honest body shop; I went there next and they said it would be $5K to fix and even then, because the hood was jammed shut, they might have to make more repairs after reaching the $5K limit. After the impact of the accident, vapor came out of the vents and the A/C quit working. There was another $1K right there. In misery I just gave up.

(Incidentally, the HUM from Verizon worked fine, just like the similar gadget in those OnStar commercials. I had barely reached for my phone to call 911 when the dispatcher came on the line and asked if I'd been in an accident. They called the police for me and the dispatcher stayed on with me until the police showed up, while I sobbed to poor James stuck at Urgent Care.)

On July 25, exactly fourteen years from the day I bought my PT Cruiser,  I had to tell the insurance company to come take the car away. They were fourteen good years and so many adventures: my mom's house for Thanksgiving after the car being broadsided by an SUV costing $13K to repair, LaSalette Shrine, Udvar-Hazy (twice), Newport, Orchard House, Quonset Point, Yorktown, Jamestown, Williamsburg, Valley Forge, Roadside America and The National Christmas Museum (now both closed), Hershey, the PA Railroad Museum, Strasburg Rail Road, Newport News, Norfolk, Dayton, Wapakoneta, Bronners CHRISTmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth, the Henry Ford, Greenfield Village (where I still want to live), Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Helen, Toccoa, Chattanooga, DragonCon, Owensboro, bringing Schuyler home from Petco...and surviving I-75/85 and I-285 weekdays. It was the last car I had that my mother rode in, and, with our finances, the last new car I will ever own. Lots of memories. Much heartache.

On Saturday July 21 at Aaron Lawson's going-away party, Jerry, bless him, was trying to cheer me up and asked if I'd like to look at his car to maybe think about getting a used Kia Soul. (Both he and Clair seem happy with their Souls.) As we were leaving, Jerry invited James to sit in the car to see if he had good head clearance. Just as we approached it, a big red-tailed hawk swooped down over our heads and landed in a tree almost right over the car, and looked back at us. It was so close we could see the beautiful patterning of the spots on the chest feathers. So James "tried on" the car, and then we got in the truck to drive home. We were approaching the end of Sewell Mill Road, almost at Roswell Road, a few miles from the Lawson house, and I saw a flash of white next to the window. Flying right next to the passenger side of the truck, so close that James couldn't see it, was another red-tailed hawk.

Just for the heck of it I Googled and got "The hawk is a messenger bird. Usually when we see a hawk it means to pay attention because a message is coming to you. Hawks represent clear sightedness, being observant, our far memory and guardianship. They also bring courage, wisdom, illumination, creativity and truth. Hawks give us the ability to see the larger picture in life. They can help you to overcome problems and make wise use of opportunities."

The last time something like this happened it was right before Mom died. I was trying to take her out to Riverside and maybe to where Crescent Park used to be. It was before they redid I-195. I drove to work that way for 3 1/2 years; I could have done it blindfolded. But three times, no matter which way I turned, I kept ending up on I-195 pointed toward Fall River. So we went to Ste. Anne's instead, and I remember Mom looking at me with a beatific face and saying "I'm so glad we came." Me, too.

James whiled away some hours for me by looking for used Kia Souls. We found one with a great Carfax report (one owner, no accidents) except for a lot of miles (150K for a three-year-old car!) up in Roswell. So we went up there Sunday the 29th and got caught up in a whirlwind of perky car salesman (so help me, I asked him "Are you always this relentlessly cheerful?"). Anyway, we drove it and it seemed okay. It's got a smaller engine than the PT so it's noisy, but it runs okay. Beggars can't be choosers, and because James needs the power chair to get around, we won't be using it on vacations anymore, except maybe for weekend things where we are not moving around much (like when we went up to his sister's for Thanksgiving in 2016). It will strictly be an errands and emergency car.

So I had it checked out by my mechanic on Monday the 30th and had it bought by that afternoon. The tow truck came by for poor Twilight last Friday (I promised not to cry anymore but I did after the taillights disappeared from our street). I've put all the shopping bags and etc. in the new car—it's a 2015 white Kia Soul, and it is definitely not "bigger on the inside" like the PT—and did a bunch of errands in it today.

Ambivalent about names. Since Twilight and Cloudy (the truck) had weather names, I thought "Hoarfrost" or "Frosty" for short, and James started singing "Frosty the white car, is a jolly, happy Soul..." I laughed and considered decking him at the same time. But a couple of times I've called it "Butch." It does have a flat top, after all.

Still, miss my "boy." And still miserable about hitting someone. I've been driving since 1971 and never hit another car in my life.

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