From a Junker to a Gem

Four years ago today, I picked up my newly restored VW bug. Painted, polished hubcaps, new dual exhaust pipes, new headliner, new upholstery, new seals on the windows and doors. So much had been done, I barely recognized my old rattletrap.

I just stared at the car. It looked so pristine, it seemed to have crept out of a time machine from the 1970s into the here. And yet it was still my vehicle, the only one I had ever owned.

For a long time, I was afraid of driving the vehicle, worried I would ding it or that it would fade in the sun or that something would happen to it.

Well, something did happen to it . . . four years.

Despite the years, it still looks awesome, though not quite as new and shiny as it did four years ago. There are chips in the paint from gravel on the road during my many trips, a ding from when someone’s car door slammed into my fender, a small area that got discolored from gas drippage, rust on the tailpipes. And it needs a bath. And tires.

But it still makes me happy to see it. It still makes others happy to see it.

I remember when I was trying to decide if I wanted to buy a new car (mine seemed like such a junker), my mechanic told me that if I bought a new car, in five years, it would be a piece of junk, but if I put that same money into my car, in five years, the bug would be a little gem. I was still on the fence until the appraiser, who came to look at my father’s house when we placed it on the market, said the same thing, in almost the same words.

So I made the appointment to have the car de-rusted and painted. It was supposed to take three weeks, but it took six months. As frustrating as those six months were, in retrospect, they were wonderful months since I spent some of those months with a dear friend. Not only did we have a great visit, but she would drop me off at the beginning of a hiking trail in the Redwood Forest or along the Pacific Ocean, and then pick me up at the end of the trail. A truly halcyon time.

Whether my bug is a gem or not, it’s still going. Luckily, I’ve found a mechanic who loves working on my car. (Compared to modern cars, it’s simple and easy to work on — if you know what you’re doing.)

Soon, perhaps, I will have a garage worthy of the car. Well, I do have a garage, but it needs a new foundation, a new floor, and new paint.

I’m looking forward to that! After all the years of service, my lovely little bug deserves a good place to rest when it’s not in use.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.