I said goodbye to Neal’s Chevy Blazer today. Perhaps I should actually call it Dad’s and Neal’s Blazer, because it was my father’s before it was Neal’s. I think that’s why Neal was so attached to it…he was very attached to his grandfather. When it became too expensive to fix, he still didn’t want to part with it, as in the back of his mind he always saw himself fixing it up one day. That isn’t going to happen now, is it?
Like Godfrey, the Blazer was full of happy memories – not just for me, either. Many people enjoyed bouncing around in the Blazer. It had a loud speaker, and four wheel drive, and could be a kick to drive around in. I’ve done so many times myself, even before Dad gave it to Neal. And, I never had to worry about Neal getting hurt, even when a teenaged driver. In “Man of La Mancha” Sancho talks about how his wife beat him, and that even though he hit her back, “Whether the stone hits the pitcher or the pitcher hits the stone, it’s going to be bad for the pitcher.” That’s the way it was with the old Blazer. It was nearly indestructible. It was the stone and not the pitcher.
When Mala and I cleared out the Blazer to get it ready for pickup we found all kinds of things abandoned there. There were a couple of Devon’s baby outfits and a baby bottle. There was a coin purse full of nickels, a science fiction paperback and one of Neal’s lucky antique poker chips. The Blazer had been sitting in the driveway for more than 3 1/2 years, and the back window was open, so almost everything was ruined by time and weather. Even so, the abandoned bits of their lives were so poignant and yet made them seem so real and immediate. They were the kind of things you would probably find abandoned in any young father’s car. Very typical and very sad.
It was a bit of a wrench to watch Neal’s car being towed off down the road, never to return. But, would it have been better to let it turn to dust in my driveway? I don’t know for certain. Perhaps I hold on so tightly to the boys’ things because it’s the only thing that I can still hold tightly to – the only physical thing at any rate. I hold them close and safe in my heart always. But that isn’t something you can reach out and touch with your hand or rest your cheek on, is it? Monkey.