My 1998 dark blue Buick Century "sedan" had mostly been sitting idle in my mother's driveway outside of McDonald, PA, since my move last year to New York City. I had used it during most my visits home but, on some of the trips, I had cheated on it in favor of a more convenient rental from the airport.
The Buick was "a grandma car" but it served me well. I bought it in 2002 after my previous car (my first, a green Chrysler Cirrus) was totalled when a 16-year-old male driver in a red convertible struck me head on after entering my lane while speeding around a blind curve up a hill in the North Hills of Pittsburgh. The driver, his passenger and I all walked away from the accident with nothing more than some scrapes.
The previous owner of the Buick, a woman from my hometown who I knew very well from my parish, had died of cancer a few months prior to the accident. She had kept the car in pristine condition and had put few miles on it. Her husband sold it to me at a very good price.
As they years went on, I often felt bad that I did not keep the car's exterior in such good condition as I knew the previous owner's husband, who lived up the block from my house, often saw that it never got the spit-and-polish treatment it had previously enjoyed.
In fact, the car may have been most recognizable for the large dent in the rear side door that I never did get bumped out. As the years went on, I began to see the dent as theft deterrent. "Some people have The Club, I have a dent," was my slogan.
The Buick saw me through three State House races and was used in community parades with campaign signs plastered over its sides. It was a classic example of what political types call "a campaign car" -- with a backseat and trunk perpetually full of yard signs, brochures, walking lists, parade candy, buttons, pens, stickers and other tools of the trade.
All of this is why I feel a little sad I didn't get a chance to say a personal goodbye to the Buick. The car was sold by remote after I mailed by mother a one-time power-of-attorney letter authorizing her to transfer the title. It was bought by a cousin of my stepfather for use by his new-driver son.
I pray for him and all those who in the future will drive the car and ride in it. May you be safe -- and may the open road (and the hills of Western PA) be your oyster.
FYI: This reflection was sparked by the "Saturday Diary" in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in which Diana Nelson Jones writes about selling her Volvo. The headline: "Carless in Pittsburgh."