As it turns out, one or two of us in this family just may be the tiniest bit sentimental. Just wait, you'll see.
I believe that this past August marked the four-year anniversary of the day we welcomed Daisy into our family. Who's Daisy, you ask? Well, maybe I can clarify by telling you that her other name is Ellie. Does that help? Okay, final hint. On any given day in a Costco parking lot you may have seen my little Skippidy running for her, yelling, "Ellie!" and throwing her arms around her. Well, least as far around as a toddler's arms can go around a minivan. Yes, Daisy is...(was) our Kia Minivan, much beloved by our family. She took us a lot of places. Seattle three times, Disneyland, the Uinta Mountains ...and most importantly safely around our city of salt for four good years.
Then Tuesday happened.
I had just left work (I'm working at an elementary school as a kindergarten aide a couple of days a week) and had pulled into Foothill village to treat myself to a little lunch. EastWest Connection makes a great Vietnamese Noodle Salad. Make sure to get the peanut sauce along WITH the vinaigrette, by the way. Anyway, I picked up my salad, I trotted off to my car, I buckled up, I pulled up to a stop sign. I waited for my turn to go. I turned left up a hill....and....a rather elderly driver came speeding down the hill, wasn't planning on stopping so he had to slam on his brakes. Only instead of his brakes he slammed on his gas, swerved around the stopped car in front of him and straight for me.
Airbags. The Kia gets slammed back 20 feet back down the road. I may have blacked out for a few seconds. The next thing I know, I'm looking down at my arms, scraped up from the airbags, acrid smoke filling the car, thinking, yes, this actually just happened.
It was really fun.
Actually there were many blessings, such as the fact that I was alone in the car - no kids to be traumatized or worse, injured. And the fact that two people whom I actually know came running out of their nearby office and helped me handle everything - called 911, helped the elderly man who looked like his nose was broken, took names and numbers and even helped me clean out my car. (Not embarrassing at all.) I have friends who helped me by picking up the kids and caring for them. We have been treated very well by the other driver's insurance. I am not seriously hurt - just some achy muscles and scraped arms. It really really could have been worse.
But I was a little sad about my car.
It was not surprising when we got the news that the damage was beyond repair. I guess overall that's good news - it can be scary I guess to drive a car that has been so severely damaged - who knows if the repairs will have any issues and what if another accident happens? Will you still be safe? So deep down, I knew it was coming and I knew it was probably a good thing. Here's where the sentimentality comes in.
After we got the car all cleaned out - luckily I carry plenty of reusable shopping bags for just such an emergency as needing to unload every bit of miscellaneous flotsam and jetsam from my car in one fell swoop - and after all the paperwork was completed and Troy took his shaken wife home, I had a realization. I thought I had checked every nook and cranny for stuff. But I remembered suddenly one forgotten cranny. It was the sunglasses pocket conveniently located on the ceiling above the driver's left ear. This is convenient until you crash your car and can't remember how to make your legs walk properly, much less where all the little storage spots in your car are. This wouldn't have been a big deal except that I knew exactly what was in that little pocket. Three small simple items. A rock. A chestnut. A toy soldier, burnt half away by a campfire.
Why the heck would I even remember these random objects? What meaning could they possibly have? What would be so important about them that would compel me to drive all the way to the wrecking yard to fetch them? I'll tell you. Each of these objects represents one of my children and not only do their physical attributes remind me of each child, but the method of acquisition in each case tells a great deal about what makes me love them so.
The rock is in the shape of a heart. It's one of the best heart-rocks I've ever seen. It represents my Bitty. She and I found it together while we were at She-and-Me girl scout camp a year ago. We had such a magical overnighter together where I was able to give her my full and complete attention, which she craves. As we were walking together along a mountain path she leaned over and picked it up, coming up with some totally Bitty-ish phrase about it being a perfect symbol of our time together.
The chestnut represents my Skippidy. She and her daddy went for a walk one night and happened to pass by a chestnut tree. It was fall, and the tree was littering the ground with its spiky balls, each containing the secret of a delightfully round, smooth and hard chestnut. Bitty found them to be entrancing, and collected as many as she possibly could gather. Troy could see her delight and wanted to help her create something with them so we didn't end up with just a big pile of chestnuts in her room. She decided she wanted to make a necklace for me, and she and Troy spent the next hour or so in the garage working on this secret gift. I will never forget the absolute glow in Skippidy's eyes as she scampered in with her surprise. My necklace weighs about three pounds but I still have it in my drawer, and keep one of the stray chestnuts in my collection.
Lastly, the soldier. This is an ancient toy, barely even green anymore. He's lying on his stomach, rifle clutched and steadied at the enemy. He has a steely gaze and a resolute grip. Stomper ...I think....found him in the mountains while we were camping with the Preslar family last year. Stomper had a ball with him, playing out the soldier's war story with heartfelt imagination. Sadly for the soldier, his story did not end well. In fact, it ended in the camp fire. I think Stomper really wanted to see what it would look like as he melted away. He was fascinated and approached the flames multiple times getting ready for the soldier's last foray into danger. Finally, Stomper asked his dad for help, so Troy set him on a burning log surrounded by flames and Stomper settled down to watch the show. It only took a few minutes before the legs started to blacken and soften, the face to bubble with heat. It was in those same minutes that Stomper's heart was softened and touched and he absolutely dissolved into tears. Troy grabbed some tongs and the soldier was quickly rescued, cooled in a nearby stream then handed back to his repentant owner. Stomper cared for him as well as any injured vet could be cared for. Well, until he kind of forgot about him a few days later and I found the toy while tidying up the playroom. I was temped to toss the rather grotesque little thing along with other bits of playroom sludge but just couldn't bring myself to do it. Now he resides with his friends the heart rock and the chestnut.
Sentimental to the core, I tell you. See why, upon realizing that these little treasures had been hauled to a wrecking hard, I had to go on a rescue mission? I tried to tell myself that they were just silly little bits of nothing...but that was so not true and I felt sick about them until I retrieved them.
And you think that was overly sentimental of me? Then you'll really think I'm over the edge when I tell you that it broke my heart to see our family van all bashed up. And alone. And dirty. Sitting in that lot, the hood unceremoniously left open in such an undignified manner. The doors gaping, she just looked lonely and abandoned. I fetched what I could find inside (for the record: one screwdriver and a pair of socks,) and walked away, feeling like I was absolutely betraying her and trying to hold back tears as I walked away. How could I just leave her wounded and alone like that in that horrible dusty yard?
I told you we're a sentimental bunch. I have kept Daisy's key ring. I firmly believe that the spirit of Daisy/Ellie lives on and lingers near by.