Saturday, August 23, 2008
Mother's car has been stored since her passing. Dad and I brought it home to clean it up. It's a classic 1985 Cadillac Eldorado that I sent her from California years ago. It's still in very nice rust free condition, with only 47,000 miles. It looks tres elegante except for the wheel cover. The right front wheel is bereft of its wire spoked spat. And therein lies a tale.
It was a summer evening in later August, 1981. Warm and humid with more than a slight possibility of rain, I was top down in the 76 Eldorado convertible, the one I rather kidnapped from Dad and took to school. A deep mocha brown with tan leather, I nicknamed her Molly. Molly Brown. Cute. I know. On this particular evening, we were headed home about midnight with the top down on I-75. The moon shone onto the hood as the Cadillac crest led the way. As I took the exit ramp, I hit a deep pothole in the dark. The entire car shook and I saw the right front wheel cover sail off into the tall Michigan grass. I stopped and searched for it in the dark, but to no avail.
My grandmother Kate was still up when I got home. She said I looked upset and I explained to her about the wheel cover. Kate, who never drove herself, knew how much pride I took in Molly's appearance. Always clean. Always. She told me not to worry, that things would look better in the morning.
Next morning both Kate and Patsy were up early. When I came down for breakfast, Kate asked me to come out to the garage. Laid out on the floor were at least a dozen chrome discs, from every make of car one could imagine. Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Ford, and yes, Molly's color-matched wheel disc with the Cadillac crest.
Kate and Patsy had driven over to the freeway exit and combed the grass to retrieve the wheel cover before I woke up. Not knowing exactly what it should look like, they took them all. I don't recall what we did with the others.
Last night I was out seeing some friends. It was a warm night, humid after a summer rain with the possibility of more. I was headed home about midnight on I-75. The moon shone on the hood as the Cadillac crest led the way. As I took the exit ramp, I thought of them and the summer night so many years ago.
I wonder if they were there too.