Of course we had a name for it. Just like any family that practically raises its kids in the vehicle that shuttles them between grandma’s, play dates, doctor’s appointments, school, fast food drive-thrus, emergency rooms and church, we had a name for the blue Windstar van that was a part of our lives for almost 10 years, 150k miles and 2 transmissions. Blue Star would have been cute, but we called it “the van”.

We’re a simple family.

Yesterday the van left us forever as we donated it to the National Kidney Foundation. Hopefully, it can serve another family, but for us, it was time for the pasture.

As it was pulled away, a few memories flashed through my mind. It made a bunch of beach trips. Even though I cleaned it out the best I could, I’m sure that North Myrtle Beach sand is ground into the fabric. I recall on one trip looking into the rear view mirror and seeing one of my beach chairs fly away. You just can’t trust bungee cords.

On another trip, about 3 days in and I had been too lazy to take off the hard shell luggage carrier, we heard a thumping sound on the roof.

“You should stop and check on that. Sounds like the luggage thingie(everything is a thingie to my wife) is loose”, Sandra says to me.

“It’s fine. Just the strap banging against the van”, I replied. Once on my way somewhere I don’t like to stop. I’d rather drive 10 miles in the wrong direction at 65 mph than stop to ask for directions. Men, you get that, right? Thank God for iPhone navigation.

“You should really stop. You’re gonna kill someone.”

It’s crossed my mind.

A few more minutes and miles of this joyful banter and I finally relent. I pull to the side of the road and indeed the rear strap had broken. The luggage carrier, empty and lightweight, had been essentially flapping in the wind.

I didn’t say she wasn’t usually right.

Great, I thought. I’m miles from the hotel; I have no extra straps; the van is loaded with Sandra and my 3 young kids and there’s no room for the carrier. Maybe if I left Sandra on the side of the road…

Then I looked down and what did I see laying on the ground by the front passenger tire? You guessed it. A brand new bungee cord. This highway stretched on for hundreds of miles, yet precisely where I stopped was precisely what I needed. It wasn’t an old beer can or an abandoned sofa or an old aluminum wheel rim. Even a bag of gold coins wouldn’t have solved my immediate problem. But a bungee cord did.

Should I pause to mention that if I’d stopped earlier when Sandra first mentioned it, there wouldn’t have been a bungee cord on the ground? My stubbornness does serve a purpose.

Nonetheless, It was a bungee cord miracle. Only an ignorant and arrogant person could deny the existence of a benevolent God if faced with this situation. It was a Red Sea event.

So many other memories. Keely, so excited that the beat up, worn out van would be hers when she turned 16. Well, it was yours for a while Keely until it became too unreliable to trust with such precious cargo.

I feel silly getting sentimental about a Ford product, but it’s not really about the van. It’s about the people it carted around.

Bye, van. Thanks for the memories.

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