The Purple Van

img_0014When I called the dealership to inquire about a van in our price range, they said there was one in burgundy. We arrived to find it sitting outside the showroom and it was quite purple. Very much like Barney the dinosaur, but with tires. Naturally, because I was 6 months pregnant, I burst into tears. The hormones made me cry. Although, I cried last year when they hauled it to the junk yard and I was definitely not pregnant so I have no explanation for that.

The purple van was in our family for 16 1/2 years. The son we brought home from the hospital in it also used it to learn to drive. It seemed like more a part of our family then just a method of transportation. Just like a family member whom you adore, we made fun of the purple van. We poked fun at the color, the fact that it had crank style windows, it’s bench seats and, up until it’s dying day, it’s longevity.
It traveled highways from Pennsylvania to Florida, took us on vacations and hauled the men on their annual Appalachian Trail trips. We put our new puppy in it for the trip home and consequently learned that she got car sick and we found that you just can’t crank down a window fast enough.

As our family grew in number, then in stature, we realized we needed a larger form of transportation. The purple van was demoted to second in our fleet of vehicles, but she still was a valued part of our automotive family. We obtained something new and shiny from this century with luxurious automatic windows. Still, we used the purple van and had special appreciation for the way the seats felt homey and how the heater could roast you in under 30 seconds. Plus, we were the only people on the block who could still play cassette tapes while driving. We just felt special. Sometimes we’d slowly crank down the windows and share the cassette tunes with the neighbors. We are thoughtful like that.

Even as our children grew they knew to appreciate the purple van. Our oldest son, Nathan, obtained his drivers license and the day I watched him pull out of the driveway alone in the purple van was bittersweet. Part of me wished to be able to hand him the keys to a brand new car. The other part of me was so glad he flat didn’t care that he was 17 and driving a purple van. He was also going to work where he dresses as a cow, so maybe he figured this is just how things are in life. You drive automobiles that are purple and you dress as farm animals.

But as Scripture says….moth and rust destroys….I’m not sure what kind of moth or rust ruined our transmission, but we decided it wasn’t worth paying to fix an almost 17 year old van. So we made the sad decision to fold. We took out everything that wasn’t nailed down, we stroked the cloth seats and sat in them one last time and reminisced while the van sat in automotive hospice. We talked about the trips, memories and miles that are the glue for our family. The kind of glue that moth and rust can never take away. We took pictures of the whole van and were amazed at the 143,000 miles we’d traveled in it.

We closed those sliding doors that behind still had Goldfish cracker crumbs, beach sand and dog hair; the stuff of our life, and we said good bye. It may be just “stuff”, but sometimes the “stuff’ of this world holds a whole lot of good memories.


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