I follow a few bloggers. One of my favorites recently posted and memories coursed through my head which initiated this. Brian (WritingfromtheheartwithBrian) was reminiscing about black Friday shopping years ago. At the time, he was actually staying home with the kiddos while his wife scurried for (bargain) Christmas presents. Top on their kid’s list that year were Game Boys. Those hand held games were the best invention since Fudge/Divinity/Penuche/Cinnamon Rolls/Soft pretzels with cinnamon/sugar/Cotton Candy in this mom’s opinion. (I might be hungry for something sweet). Game Boy was wholly responsible for peace on earth/good will towards sibs/keep your hands to yourself when we traveled. It’s one of the modern miracles.
Hubs is one of those guys who was born handy. He knows how to fix/repair/jerry-rig stuff although no one’s taught him. By year 18 of wedded bliss he had worked on, tore down to the frame, overhauled, replaced, spent hours meandering through salvage yards and literally months laying on his back underneath whatever junker we owned at the time, just trying to get back and forth to work.
But the times they were a changing. When we moved to Michigan in 1987 we had a 1984 Chevy S-10, but our other vehicle (questionable at best) was a 1978 Mitsubishi Sapporo-with a rebuilt engine Hubs had swapped-that didn’t quite fit and had issues. Our growing family of 5 didn’t fit in either one. Luckily Adam was small and was regularly delegated to the floor boards among our 6 legs & feet. Forget about seat belts.
Although we didn’t know it at the time, John’s dad was in the last year of his life. Jim had been battling leukemia for a couple years and most of his fighting days were over. We knew we’d be making a couple trips to Iowa and desperately needed good transportation that comfortably sat all of us for the one way, 12 hour drive. We hadn’t been in Michigan more than a few months when opportunity knocked.
A local guy was advertising his 1986 Astro van. Said he needed to give up one of his rides before it was repossessed and decided to keep a Corvette and a pickup (with 4 kids) and sell the van that fit his family. Goofball. The Astro van had 12,000 miles and he needed $12 thousand to break even. It was perfect for us. At the same time my parents offered us their 1978 Nova because Shannon had just gotten her license. Just think, for the first time we had 3 reliable means of transportation for 3 licensed drivers. Another miracle.
I started driving during the mid-60’s and the 1986 Chevy van was the first car we ever owned that was an automatic. I was so pleased/proud/protective of that mini-van I wouldn’t drive it during the winter (much to Shannon’s dismay because then we were sharing the Nova). I garaged the Astro in my neighbor’s extra stall and drove the Nova when the weather was bad (that’s December through March in Michigan).
While the kids were on summer break that year we drove to Iowa. You’d think they would have been thrilled with all the extra room the van offered but still they fought. Shannon claimed the entire back bench seat and listened to her music loud enough for the rest of us to enjoy-ugh (Walk like an Egyptian, Livin’ on a prayer, I just died in your arms) but there were spats the whole trip. “Adam farted,” “move over, you’re on my half,” Shannon’s music is too loud,” “mom, Josh is looking at me.” (Oh for the love of pete). By the next Iowa trip each gawking/farting/crowding/griping son had their own Game Boy (fully charged) and peace reigneth the entire trip. In 53 years of marriage (to date) those 2 Game Boys remain one of our best investments.
During that trip John brought his dad to the hospital for a blood transfusion (which he was now getting more frequently) when Jim said to his youngest son, “Johnny, this is the last time I’ll see you. I’m not coming back for any more transfusions. I’m done.” John argued and pleaded but Jim had made up his mind. He was going out on his terms and he was too tired to fight. He was right. He passed away a couple months later on November 4th. Jim was the first of our parent’s who died, but there were still 3 living Iowa parents so the multiple trips each year continued (along with hand held games/tooting boys/sullen teens) until my dad moved to Michigan in 2005…