I don’t believe I ever really thought about cars beyond their ability to take me from A to B. So when my dad left me his 1997 Ford Taurus, it didn’t occur to me that I may actually have to take certain routine steps to make sure it kept working the way it should.
My dad asked me to accompany him on the day he bought the car. I remember rolling up to the lot in a taxicab and seeing all the glimmering machinery parked outside. When he showed me this particular car, this Ford Taurus, it looked like a submarine and I couldn’t figure out whether that was a good or a bad thing.
Dad definitely seemed to be keen on getting it as it was “right in his budget” and was “a good, sturdy vehicle for the family” so I reckoned it might be cool to ride around in the four wheeled submarine.
Sandy Tales & Guys In Tights
We went on quite a few road trips in that Taurus. I always enjoyed sprawling out with pillows and a huge comforter as I watched the landscapes changing outside the windows. My parents were the typical dorky parents with homemade snacks, “fun car games,” and LOTS of singing along to old 70s and 80s hits. I used to hate it, but sooner or later it came to a point when my disgruntled mumbles and sourpuss frowns were all just an act.
I enjoyed our road trips.
I remember this one time when we drove to Orlando, Florida for a little over a week.
The drive was only supposed to take about a half day, but the great thing about my dad was his spontaneity. First, he decided to stop in a little city in Georgia. In my humble opinion, Savannah is still one of the most beautiful cities in America. It used to be the state’s capital and now it’s somewhat of a hidden gem. Driving through those streets made me feel like I was in an old movie, in the time that color pictures first became a thing. For the first time in a long time, we were driving with no blasting music or silly games.
We were all in awe of the city.
We had our first brisket sitting in LaFayette square, surrounded by flowers, shrubbery, and a rather impressive fountain. We loved the city so much that we decided to spend the night and get on the road again the next morning.
When we got to Florida, we stopped in yet another picturesque city, St.Augustine. My dad was always great at making up stories and, boy, was he on a roll that day. This city looked like it was frozen in colonial times. I half expected men in wigs and tights to burst around the corner on their mighty steeds, especially with the crazy tales my father was conjuring up.
We finally reached our intended destination over a day later than planned, but were having the time of our lives. While the places we visited on this trip were all wonderful in their own right, my father was definitely the reason that we enjoyed it all so much.
We spent the first two days at Walt Disney World and the last three days visiting different beaches. The rule was that we couldn’t get any sand inside the vehicle. Obviously, that was impossible. No matter how hard we tried, we trailed in sand even when we weren’t anywhere near the physical boardwalk, let alone the beach. When we got back home, I spent the next three days (the last three days of my summer vacation) assigned with the task of doing everything I could to completely rid the vehicle’s interior of the pesky, annoying, and unwanted souvenir.
It was mind numbing.
To illustrate to you how horrible I was at vehicle maintenance, I started out thinking I could brush it all out. I literally sat there for hours, attempting to brush the sand out of every single nook and cranny.
Of course, I later discovered the magical powers of a vacuum cleaner. Figures.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and so my incredibly hilarious, imaginative, adventurous, and most beloved father met his. He was always a very intelligent and insightful man so I can only imagine what sort of mish-mashed state his mind was in at the time because by some colossal lapse of judgement, he left me his Taurus.
I must admit that in hindsight I cannot believe I didn’t manage to wreck it much earlier than I did.
At this point, it had been 5 years since my father passed away. In those 5 years that I owned the vehicle, I had never once gotten it checked by a mechanic. I narrowly avoided what could have been a serious texting and driving accident, and spent the majority of the time with car in overdrive. This was entirely unbeknownst to me because I literally had no idea until a friend of mine pointed out that the poor vehicle was exerting itself too much because I had mistakenly pushed the little button under the automatic stick.
By that time, the red check engine light and the smell of burnt rubber were just a familiar part of my daily drives.
That fall I went to visit some family in North Carolina around Thanksgiving. If you’ve never been to North Carolina in the fall, it’s a sure sight for sore eyes. All the leaves turn brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow, and the trees line the sides of roads just like something out of a postcard. I had the radio on blast with the year’s hits playing as I sang whatever lyrics I knew at the top of my lungs; there were nearly no other vehicles on the suburban roads that day.
I was thoroughly enjoying this drive when suddenly, I heard a very loud bang. I felt a violent jerk as the car slowed slightly. Before I had time to think or react, the car was veering off to the right and straight into a beautiful, majestic oak tree. As I fell unconscious, the last thing I remembered was a few brightly colored leaves floating down onto the hood of my Taurus.
My father’s beloved 1997 Ford Taurus was completely totaled because I had been too ignorant to check or change the tires in over 5 years. Lesson learned.
While I may no longer have that strange submarine on wheels or my father anymore, the memories they gave us will forever be cherished. I like to imagine he is up there in heaven rejoicing for the fact that he and his machine, our family submarine as it were, are reunited at last.