Thursday, October 07, 2010

Goodbye, old friend

Yesterday I said goodbye to a long time friend of the family.  For that matter, it had been a long time friend to many kids and adults over the years.  I'm talking about the old, red van. 

Dad bought a 1978 Chevy van to replace another van that was no longer trustworthy to transport precious cargo around the country.  This was no happy, family mini van - it was a cargo van that was heavy duty.  Dad was proud of that.  That van took his family everywhere - on vacations, short jaunts to the cabin, trips to see family; moved his kids in and out of college and into first apartments ... and back out of them, we used it every time we moved to haul stuff across Iowa so that the additional weight wouldn't tip the scales of the moving van (Dad was a cheapskate! He didn't want the company to charge him more for his huge library of books and other really heavy items).  It took youth groups on trips for workcamps in Kentucky and Tennessee, into North Dakota and wild, excursion trips to the Boundary waters canoe area in northern Minnesota and white water canoeing and kayaking in Wisconsin and Missouri.  He hauled kids to retreats (this is one picture I have of the youth group getting ready to leave Camp Golden Valley after a weekend retreat):

It was the second car for the family, so if we weren't driving a Volkswagen or Subaru, we were driving the van. 

Then one day, it was no longer needed to haul large groups of people.  The three of us kids had moved on in our lives and owned separate cars.  Dad brought it up to the cabin to live out the rest of its life, using it to transport supplies as he built the porch on the cabin, brought in appliances and became the van that Jim's kids enjoyed driving around the meadow.  They used it to haul the trailer filled with dead branches to a burn pile.  Every year it seemed as if someone needed to do some work on it just to make it run a little longer.

Last year, it got parked in the meadow and nature had her way with it (that's it down in the meadow, covered with snow - on the left hand side of the photo).  From the harsh winter to no fewer than five floods, the van was finally ready to see the end of its life.

So, I asked my friend up here if he knew someone and he certainly did.  Yesterday, his friend showed up with a trailer and his two little grandsons.  It took a lot of activity (because of the adorable grandsons - read:  active, little boys) and it was pulled onto the trailer.  He took off and had no idea of the number of memories that van carried with it.

It was strange to see it being hauled away and to realize that after 30+ years, another piece of my life was now a memory.  There is no grass where it has been parked, but I know that soon nature will reclaim that space and we'll forget exactly where it was parked.  We may forget the van, but the memories that surround trips taken in it will always be there.

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