I had an old Datsun 510 station wagon that I bought when I was in my mid twenties.
It was pretty ragged out when I got it. It was a mess. It was a young, single man’s car.
It had a plexiglass rear window that someone had installed in the rear hatch instead of fixing it right with a new piece of glass. The previous owners had replaced the engine with one out of a 280 Z.
The car ran pretty well most of the time. It was only a problem when I was having problems with it.
My Aunt Joyce came for a visit that year. She flew out from her home in Spokane to see her sister…my mother…and to have a nice visit with all of us.
On one of the days of her visit, Aunt Joyce and I went out cruising in the old Datsun.
I can’t remember why we went out…probably we had some kind of agenda, but from what I remember, we were just cruising around.
It’s pretty fun to cruise around Atlanta. There’s lots to see.
When we came back out to the car after walking around for a while….something was wrong.
Something was wrong with the old yellow station wagon with the plastic rear window.
The car wouldn’t start. The starter was shot.
“Have you ever roll started a car?” I asked my Aunt Joyce.
She couldn’t push it fast enough, so after a couple of tries, I let her do the “sit inside the car” part.
(That’s a horrible joke…I wouldn’t ask my Aunt Joyce to push an old car…she did the inside part the whole time.)
I pushed the car after explaining what she was going to do with the clutch and the accelerator, and off we went.
It took a little bit of pushing around that parking lot, me yelling, “Pop it! Pop it NOW!!! OK…push the clutch in…we’ll try it again…OK…NOW!!! Pop it!!!Pop it!!!Pop the clutch!!!” before I could finally say, “Good! Push the clutch in…” and get around while the car was still running.
It’s hard to breathe when you’re pushing a little imported car and laughing your butt off at the same time.
We made it…and we made it home. It was hilarious.
I fixed the starter later that same visit.
My cousin, Julie, wrote me yesterday that Joyce had passed away.
She’d had a couple of strokes and from what Julie said it sounded like she’d slept most of her last week here.
I’d been writing a letter in my head to Joyce from the day I’d heard she’d had her stroke.
Those letters are still up there…I never wrote them and I never sent them. They are still only up in my head.
I wanted to tell her that I washed every dish before I put it in the dishwasher now. I’d remembered teasing her about “Why would you wash them first…if you’re going to wash them in there?” when I was a teenager.
I wanted to tell her that now that I was buying the dishwashers, I tried to wash the dishes first so that things didn’t tear up.
But I didn’t tell her that.
I love my Aunt Joyce. She had one of the most consistently positive attitudes it has been my privilege to be around. She was full of good humor.
I spent a lot of years being blessed to laugh with my Aunt Joyce.
Christians believe in the life after death. Christians believe that God loves us.
I’m a Christian…so that’s what I believe.
Losing my parents…and losing any of my loved ones…losing my Aunt Joyce…is a tragedy to me.
I am here…in this world…for now…so when they are “someplace else”, it’s a tragedy.
For me, it’s something sad to lose people that I desperately love.
For them, it is a victory…a new beginning.
My Aunt Joyce popped the clutch…and we laughed our tails off.
We made it home together.