Washing the Car
I had a dream last night. In my dream, me and my brother Mike, Ted, Matt and Stacy were all over at the old house on seventh street. It was a beautiful day like today, and we all had our cars lined up on the curb of the road in front of the house. Dad had his bucket and his car washing “mitt” ready and we were all going to wash our cars!
Now, there’s really a lot of truth in that dream.
One of the Sunday afternoon rituals for many, many years was to wash our cars on nice sunny days.
We used to go over to Mom and Dad’s house on most Sundays for lunch. That was a ritual which began farther back than I can remember. We started that tradition when they lived on 8th street, back when our kids were very young. Mom and Dad moved to South Carolina for about five years and then moved back down to Georgia in the late nineties. After they move back we resumed our regular Sunday visits.
Mom would cook dinner most of the time, occasionally we would order some food, especially when Mom and Dad began to get older. Some days it was hectic, especially after mine and my brother’s children grew up and got married! But it was our get together time, our family time, our sharing time. Looking back from where I am now, it’s time that can never be replaced. Time which was as precious as gold. Only we didn’t know it then.
My Dad’s house was situated right next to the road, and his outside water spigot was near the front of his house. He always kept the right supplies right there on the edge of the front porch. A coiled up hose pipe, a bucket, a fuzzy mitt and a bunch of car washing liquid.
As I mentioned earlier, my brother and I would park our cars out front when our kids were little. If it was a sunny day, we’d break out the hose pipe and have a go at the cars. I was always the more reluctant of the two of us to wash the car, so I usually went last. After I was through, my Dad always did an examination of the car.
“You missed a spot here” he would say
I usually had, because I was in a big hurry to get it done. I’m not a big fan of hand washing a car. Car washes are more my thing. But I did it for Dad.
As my kid’s, and my brother’s children grew up we continued the “car washing” tradition. All the boys have at one time or another…and most many times, lined their cars up in front of that house and washed the road dirt off of them. Most of the time, we’d hook up Mom’s old vacuum cleaner with a drop cord and vacuum out the dirt too. We had clean cars.
I hadn’t hand washed a car since my since my Dad died in May of 2010. As I said, I’m more of a “car wash” kind of guy.
But in the dream I had last night, my Dad was chewing my butt out for letting my car get so dirty. I was first in line, since I’m the oldest, and I couldn’t get that damn car washed to my Dad’s satisfaction. “You missed a spot” he repeated again and again. And I had! Mike and Ted and everyone else behind me were getting mad. “Can’t you get that thing clean” I heard somebody say “We ain’t got all day”
I woke up with that last phrase echoing in my head.
So after I got back from eating breakfast with my brother and sister in law this morning, I got my bucket, my towels and my soap, and pulled my car into my driveway between my house and my neighbor’s house. I got my little step ladder so I could get the top good. I washed it one time, but I wasn’t happy. I had missed a spot. I washed it again, and then one more time after I had let the warming sun dry it out good enough to see the teeny tiny spots I had missed the second time. At one point, I thought I could actually hear a voice coming from my car saying “Oh baby…rub it right there”
Well…it WAS a dirty little car, after all.
Then I took the full size towel I had brought out and wiped that car down from top to bottom. I looked it over once, twice, three times. There were no spots. Not even on the windows, because I had done them inside and out.
I turned around to look, but my Dad wasn’t there to inspect my work.
At least not in person. I could hear him inside my head though: “good job son, I knew you could do it” Finally!
On days like this beautiful day, I sometimes wish I had continued to live in that old house over on seventh street.
Or maybe instead I wish this house I live in, in which I have lived in since 1987, had a water spigot situated more conveniently for car washing.
But that was then and this is now, and the one thing you have to know about life is that it changes, and keeps on changing.