Thursday, February 25, 2010

St. Gen, we hardly knew ye

It’s just a car.

It’s just a 1998 Buick Century with less than 30,000 miles on it, sitting out in the elements, looking sad because it’s not getting enough use.

It’s just a gold 1998 Buick Century with a battered-in door that told me she probably shouldn’t be driving anymore.

It was just her car with the personalized plates that said “St. Gen,” which told us, tongue in cheek, how she viewed herself.

And now it belongs to Max, one of her great grandsons, who has earned the “great” part of that label. He told me in person and later announced on his Facebook page that he’s lucky to have the family he does or he wouldn’t have the wheels. He probably doesn’t realize how lucky we are to have a 16-year-old boy who understands the meaning of family.

“I gave that car to him, didn’t I?” my mom asks, half as a question because she can’t always remember, half as a validation that she did something good.

“Yes, you did,” I say and I smile to let her know she did, in fact, do something good.

“Well, there was no sense in letting it sit there and deteriorate,” she says. “He can make good use of it.”

Indeed he can. At 16, having your own car, even one that’s 12 years old, even a granny car, even one with a sort of bashed in door, means freedom.

At almost 90, not having a car signals just the opposite.

I wept when I pulled in the parking lot this week. Its absence speaks as loudly as its presence.

So long, St. Gen.