This is the second in a series of posts about a family and the truck that they keep and maintain in memory of their beloved husband and father.
Losing somebody when you are too young to remember them is sometimes an uncomfortable thing. Years later, one might realize that many, if not the only, memories they have of the person are the memories of others told to them as stories when they’ve grown and begun to understand death better. However, sometimes the lost loved one may leave behind something that may help create a sense of closeness to them even in their physical absence. This object may help one develop a better understanding of what kind of person the lost loved one was or could even just offer comfort when thinking of them. For Meredith, her late father’s bright red 1994 Chevy Silverado pickup truck is such an object.
Some of Meredith’s earliest memories of the truck involve riding in the truck with her mother. The truck has no passenger airbags, so Meredith was allowed to ride shotgun on the way to school from a very young age. Her mother always kept the windows rolled down, allowing a cool breeze into the truck’s cab on the way to school. Whenever they were preparing to go somewhere in the truck, however, Meredith would often fight with her brother, Evan, who was featured in Part 1 of this post. Their bickering would get so intense and drawn out that their mother often had to declare that they weren’t taking the truck to school and that they’d instead be riding in the family’s true daily driver, a Honda Odyssey minivan. Though that’s disappointing, taking any chance one could to ride in the front seat of a car is understandable since, at early elementary age, one isn’t going to be allowed in the front seat of a car on their own for another decade or so. When that time came for Meredith, though, learning to drive on the truck was a lot more than she bargained for.
As previously mentioned, after Meredith’s father died, one of the main reasons for their family keeping the truck was so that Evan and Meredith could learn to drive with a vehicle that they were both familiar with. After Evan left for college, he received his own car with which to drive between class, work, and visits with nearby relatives in Indiana and Michigan. Meredith was somewhat jealous of her brother’s new car, but still very excited to be able to learn how to drive on her father’s old truck. Many issues were encountered when she started driving.
For instance, not even the tall seating position in the truck could help Meredith, who is a rather small woman, see over the steering wheel much less the hood. With Meredith’s lack of experience and the truck’s lack of refinement, it was also hard to gauge how the truck would respond to control inputs. Meredith admits to still having no concept of how wide the truck’s turning radius is, even after driving it throughout her time in high school. The first time she drove the truck to school and parked in the student lot, she had to retry parking next to other cars about 4-5 times. Eventually, she simply started parking on the far end of the lot so that she wouldn’t have to worry about bumping into anything while parking. Despite the difficulties that Meredith had driving the truck, she has come to appreciate it thanks to the connection with her father.
Though Meredith doesn’t have many memories of her father, she has learned to rely on stories and tangible objects to truly feel a connection with him. The truck is the one memento that her father left behind that helps her experience the closest connection with him. Combining the stories that Meredith’s mother has told her involving the truck with the knowledge that her father touched the same steering wheel and sat in the same seats that she does while driving the truck helps her maintain a sense of nearness. She says that even though her father is gone, having the truck in the family’s possession is like holding onto a small piece of him that will remain with them for a very long time.