October 3, 2005

The title might be misleading, as today is actually Monday, June 15, 2009. But there are two similarities. On October 3, 2005, I was at the auto dealership in Brunswick ordering myself a new Corolla to replace my 1994 one. My original Corolla was an LE, Sunfire Red Pearl with a sunroof, great memories and about 180,000 miles. It lasted me 11 years, and by 2005 it became evident that it was time to either give up the car or get ready to spend big bucks getting things like the transmission replaced. And who wouldn't want a new car after 11 years?

It might seem by reading that simple paragraph that it was a happy day, but it was anything but. In fact, when I look back it was one of those "Top 10 most life changing moments" days. Not because of the car, but because of the call I got at 4:30pm that day, about 30 minutes before I left work.

My Grandpa Grimm had been taken to the hospital, and the diagnosis at the time was potential leukemia. He had suffered all summer from bad health, which was unlike him. He was 82 years strong, still farming, still full of life. Though I hadn't seen him since Christmas 2004, I was constantly getting updates and knew he was having undiagnosed issues. Things came to a head on Monday, October 3.

I already had the appointment at the dealership scheduled, and I was still in shock. Brad and I went, and soon after we sat down I got a call on the cell from my mom. I left the chair, leaving Brad to finalize the deal. I went outside, and it was at Brunswick Auto Mall that I found out that my grandpa had leukemia, and a short time to live. Further tests had to be done to determine how long he had, but it was a shocking and devastating diagnosis.

My Grandpa Grimm meant the world to me. Up until that point, in 2005, things had not gone well starting with Jan. 1 of the new year. By this point I had gone through my first back surgery and it was evident that something had failed. I have yet to recover from what that did to me. The day I went back to work after the surgery Brad was let go from him job. We had bought a new house less than a month prior, had a surgery bill that we had to pay for 100% as it was too new to be covered, and I had a sucky job that didn't pay a darn. My Grandpa Suntken had been in and out of the hospital, and didn't know who any of us were any more. He had a brush with death in September that year (before eventually passing away on Nov. 10). There were many other things, but it was just the year that nothing went right and everything seemed to fall apart. And honestly, I still don't think I've recovered from it.

So what is all of this about? Well, today I'm heading over to Brunswick Auto Mall and doing the paperwork for a new Corolla. Since I got my 2006 version on Oct. 19, 2005, I've logged 75,000 miles and one heck of a ride in life. I never realized it until I got in a test car this weekend, but since I got the 2006 model things in life have been more negative than positive. Is the car jinxed? Maybe. Oh heck, I know it's not. But it is a reminder of that horrible day when I found out about Grandpa, and I've never been the same since. If you knew him you would know why I feel this way. I always felt his love, support, and I knew he had my back. Losing him was one of the worst days of my life. Seeing him go through what he had to for almost three months just compounded everything, though it makes me happy to know he made it to his favorite day of the year - Christmas Eve. It was the last time I saw him and spoke to him before he died about three days later.

In a small way it's sad I'll be parting with the 2006 model, because I remember my Grandpa asking me about when I was getting it and what it was like. After he died I often found my hand in the passenger seat while driving home, in a fist, like I was holding an invisible hand. I honestly had never done it before he died. It reminded me of my last time with him, his left hand holding my right one on the couch in the living room on the farm. I felt like he was right there in the car with me, supporting me. I feel like he's always been there...going to/from doctor to doctor, getting bad news about my health on the phone, and sometimes just giving me the strength to keep pushing that gas peddle to get where I need to go, even if I'd rather be at home suffering quietly.

I will say the new 2010 model is a throwback to happier times for me. I'm sticking with the dark grey, S-series, but this time I'm going with a '94 Corolloa feature - a sunroof. Well, actually a moon roof, but my first car had the sunroof. The moment I got in a test car with that moon roof and opened it, I felt this immediate flashback to happier times. It reminded me of being in my old Corolla with friends, when my Grandpa's were still alive, and I was traveling, being young and enjoying life.

I'm not going to the dealership without my own obstacle this time, either. I fell at a Home Depot yesterday and did more damage to my knees and right ankle. I bought this darn cream for arthritis that I was horribly allergic to, so I've basically felt on fire for the last 26 hours. I'm hoping this isn't a sign...hopefully just the last sucky thing to happen to me with the car that hasn't brought a lot of happiness or good memories.

It will be a few weeks before I get my new car, but I should have it before heading to Cape Cod to see my brother during the 4th of July. I'm looking forward to opening the moon roof, hearing the sounds of the road with Brad by my side, and heading for a new adventure. This car has more gadgets, which is a big plus for a gal like me who spends a minimum 90 minutes in the car a day. And it's not just a car; for me it's a new path, a new start. As humans I think we have a lot of opportunities for fresh starts, and I'm looking forward to this one. May this be the start of some positive luck for a change.

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