We recently retired our trusty old car, Betsy, a light brown 1993 Honda Accord. In our family since she was brand new, I recall sitting in the backseat with my sister while my parents took her for a test drive, thinking about how cool it was that our new car had a sunroof. There was ample room so that we each had our own personal space- an important consideration for a teenager and a pre-teen pre-disposed to arguing. My first boyfriend thought my mom was so cool because our car was manual transmission and she could drive it. Of course, my sister and I learned to drive stick in that car, and we both, I’m sure, raced a few unsuspecting young fellows who thought we were easy targets to pass coming off a red light. Needless to say, we left them in the dust.
After covering miles of highway all over the west, Betsy made her journey east with hubs and I, almost 5 years ago. Four days of typical Canadian winter conditions: Black ice, blizzards, blowing snow and zero visibility summed up our prairie segment, and snow with thick, heavy fog and yet more horrid visibility made up the rest. Slow and steady we crept along and eventually we made it and Betsy became a regular amongst the cars parked on our street.
Two summers ago, at the exact moment that hubs drove up the steep bridge to cross the border, Betsy exploded. Oil everywhere and smoke billowing out form under the hood. “Um… my car’s on fire… can I pull over?” Said hubs, trying not to lose his shit. How many border/customs agents have heard that one, you gotta wonder. “Not yet. First, what’s your reason for coming to the United States?” The border guard asked while hubs did his best not to wonder if there were flames to go with the increasing amount of thick black smoke.
Poor hubs. The reason was me. After three months of me being away, he was coming to pick me up from the KI. After making sure hubs checked out, they let him through. Like a champion he put out the smoke and hustled to get Betsy towed to a scrap lot. A suitable oil plug was found, and, miraculously, the old girl started. Hubs limped her to three different shops before one said “Ya, we’ll take a look at ‘er.” He got a rental and hit the road, making up time so he could see me graduate. An epic storm, with sideways rain and golfball sized hail, did its best to delay him, but hubs just kept on going- he was in a rental now, after all.
Hubs made it, just in time.
The rest of that story is long and I’ll spare you the details, but a few days late and after an extra drive back to the States, we eventually brought Betsy home on a blazing hot summer day. 35˚C outside, with the heat on full inside, and only the drivers side window able to open. We pulled over to the shoulder a total of three times, when the temperature gauge reached critical. Sticky and saturated with sweat, stripped down to the bare necessities, we made it and Betsy got “fixed” although after that she was never the same.
We knew her journey was almost over when she started to go on strike. By strike, I mean turning off while we were driving her. Nothing like motoring along in the fast lane and having your car randomly shut off. It’s amazing just how far one can cruise with zero power. As if to prove her point, that she was ready to rest, Betsy revved with disgruntle as we shifted gears, and her new top speed became a maximum of 90 kms per hour. So much for her old favourite of over 120. After 20 years of faithful service and over 402, 691 kms she was ready to retire and spend her days sittin’, getting used for parts, waiting to eventually be re-incarnated in some shiny recycled new item.
Hubs got to drive our new car first, though really I let him. It was all planned out in my mind so I could quickly say goodbye to Betsy, then jump into our new wheels while hubs sped away. Placing my hand on her trunk in a gesture of farewell, I admit I shed a tear.
Thanks, Betsy. You were a damn fine car.