Today my brother and sister-in-law are picking up Mom’s car. They will clean it up and sell it in the coming weeks.  I don’t know why this is making me so tender, but it is.

Mom hasn’t driven her 2001 silver Buick Le Sabre for years now. We’ve been hanging onto it because she thought it would be too hard to get in and out of a different car. Last week when we tried to use it to go to a doctor’s appointment, the battery was completely dead. Out of necessity, she got in and out of my Subaru just fine. Just like that, her need for the car suddenly disintegrated.

Of course, it’s the right thing to do. She pays good money for her rock star parking spot in the underground heated garage, not to mention insurance and tabs.

Even so, letting go of the car is another diminishment – another sign that the scope of her long and interesting life is shrinking.

Mom’s been a widow for a long, long time – 27 years. After Dad’s death, she took on all of the things he used to tend, including all things automotive. The Buick was the first car she purchased on her own and she took impeccable care of it.

That car gave her the power to just up and go – to do her grocery shopping at 11 pm or check on the spring flooding on the river downtown or go to church several towns away. She drove it – bravely – into the big city to attend many of my concerts, all without the benefit of GPS. It carried her to innumerable celebrations at my brother and sister-in-law’s place an hour’s drive from her home. It made many trips to her hometown of Des Moines, sometimes with her at the wheel and later with my brother or me driving.

When Mom stopped driving, she did so like the grownup she is — calmly and without a fuss. Since then she and I have taken that beloved old car on many jaunts:

  • our annual drive up the river to admire fall colors
  • visits to the orchard to get her favorite treat, apple rollovers
  • driving by the old family place to check progress on the new owners’ remodeling
  • tending Dad’s grave
  • spontaneously visiting old friends and neighbors around town
  • and so many dinners at her favorite haunts

As we were driving around in my car last week, she kept remarking how strange it was to be out in the world after being housebound for so many months. “Oh my!” she’d exclaim, “Oh my!” We agreed that getting her out and about more often is a good idea, especially with winter coming. I look forward to driving Mom around town, listening to her reminisce about her 60+ years in this place. No doubt, we’ll both miss that old Buick.

My mother and I are learning to let go of one cherished thing after another. One day she stops wearing red lipstick; the next day she can’t find the word she’s looking for. Now her car is gone. One by one these will continue to fall away until all that is left is love.

About Barbara McAfee

Barbara is a voice coach, singer/songwriter, keynote speaker, and author who merges lessons from 12 years in organization development with the transformational power of sound. Her book, Full Voice: The Art & Practice of Vocal Presence (Berrett-Koehler Publishers) was a #1 Amazon bestseller in Business Communication. The book is based on her 25 years as a voice coach, supporting people from many professions in learning how to access the full power and expression of the voice in service to their work and relationships. Barbara’s musical keynotes blend practical content, sophisticated humor, and thought-provoking questions on topics including voice, leadership, and engagement. She was “the band” for Margaret Wheatley’s Women’s Leadership Revival Tour, which visited 15 North American cities. She also appears with authors Parker Palmer and Peter Block. Barbara has produced seven CD's of mostly original music and is founder of the Morning Star Singers, a volunteer hospice choir in the Twin Cities. She lives across the street from the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
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7 Responses to Wheels

  1. Jill says:

    Touching and poignant
    , thank you.

  2. Loie says:

    You capture so well what the journey is like as we escort our loved elders through the last part of part of their life. Thank you!

  3. Louise says:

    Thanks for telling the story, Barbara. I especially like your last line. As my dad said to me in the days before he died, “It’s all about love.”

  4. mmitchell0818 says:

    Hear here… All that is left is love…

    [image: Sweet Heart.jpg]

    On Thu, Oct 4, 2018 at 12:41 AM Full Voice — Barbara McAfee wrote:

    > Barbara McAfee posted: “Today my brother and sister-in-law are picking up > Mom’s car. They will clean it up and sell it in the coming weeks. I don’t > know why this is making me so tender, but it is. Mom hasn’t driven her 2001 > silver Buick Le Sabre for years now. We’ve been han” >

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