Back in February, I said farewell to Towanda, my Pontiac Vibe that got me “there and back again,” while dad was in hospice. She had begun to do the downward spiral in the fall and the mechanic quietly said, “it’s time.” So I began to test-drive everything on the planet it felt like. I drove sedans, hatchbacks, SUV’s, and things I knew I wouldn’t buy and couldn’t afford. I drove the hell out of them. I finally had it narrowed down to a Nissan Rogue, a Toyota Rav 4, a Kia Soul (because every day you’re shufflin’) and a Scion, but that wasn’t until January. I hated test-driving in the snow and ice. Hated it!
There were pro’s and con’s about everything. And it’s so hard to choose because this is a choice you’re stuck with. It’s not like a pair of pants that doesn’t fit and you can return it to the store; you’re boogered if this isn’t right. So choose wisely before selecting the Holy Grail. (Sorry, Indiana Jones reference snuck in there). I was giving up a car with all wheel drive….that was going to be hard, mostly because I was spoiled, but none of the cars I was looking at had all wheel drive, and the cars that did have all wheel I’d rejected because they were too old or out of my price range. I needed a newer car with fewer miles. I didn’t want to get into the older car with fewer miles situation again; I needed to be in this decade at least. Some options I had were older car and more miles, new car and more miles, older car and fewer miles but nothing was right yet.
It was Thanksgiving and Towanda was really beginning to get tired, she’d made her last trip to the UP, and she knew it. She was hauling her last Christmas tree back south, her last careful trip below the bridge. Cars sense these things, I do believe. So now I really needed to get serious about looking OR keep sinking money into her and crying as I did so. I began to limit my driving as my “Check Engine” light remained on. It was like a beacon that welcomed me into my car. If it wasn’t on, I knew something was wrong.
I consulted with two car friends from back home that I lovingly call Ratchet and Clank. I emailed them the list of cars that I was looking at and they vetoed a lot of them. Which is good, but also discouraging. Here I thought I was car shopping pretty good, but this made me think twice. So I nixed the ones they suggested, went out and drove the other cars AGAIN. Now it was down to the Rav, the Kia and the Scion. The Kia had a lot of zip to it, but it felt like a windup toy car. The Rav was fine, but I hate the external spare tire…for me, that’s an accident waiting to happen. (And higher insurance rates after said accident.) The Scion felt like a car, and it was red; Venom red. Back to the computer and emailed Ratchet and Clank and asked Scion or Kia? Boy, was THAT the wrong question to ask. Or maybe it was the right one. It was a good debate and I ended up hearing a lot of personal preferences for cars they like to service.
When it came time to clean her up and take her to the dealer, it was hard. She’d been with me for so long. She’d accumulated so much stuff, heard so many prayers and carried me so far. Her rear end had so many stickers and one very important one that bore her name, that I didn’t even remove when I drove her that final drive to the dealer.
I ended up with the Venom Red 2013 Scion.
I still see Red Pontiac Vibes and think how I miss Towanda and all the fond memories that I had with her. That was the last car that Dad rode in (well aside from when we picked him up from the funeral home.) But I brought him to the library to see mom in Towanda, and he grumped at me for all the yellow lights that I ran. I put 10,000 miles on her in 6 months while dad was in hospice and everytime I made that drive north, I’d pray I’d make it there before something awful happened; she got me there safely everytime.
Many have asked how she got her name. It’s from the movie, “Fried Green Tomatoes.” Here’s the story: the character Idgie, says it a few times as well. The first time she meets Frank Bennett and he asks her name, she tells him “Towanda. What’s it to you?” When Idie, her brother, and Big Sam rescue Ruth from Frank, as they are driving away, yells: “Towanda! The amazing Amazon woman!” Evelyn says it before she slams into the back of another car repeatedly. It is a name and the implication is Towanda is an amazing Amazon warrior woman ready to take on what ever comes her way.
And there you have it….the story of Towanda.
Here’s to Towanda, may you rest in peace. Open up the sun roof, and take dad for a drive!
“Fare thee well, and if for ever
Still for ever fare thee well.” ~ George Gordon Byron