By Rhaea Miller /
Thirteen and a half years ago Lee and I special ordered a Chrysler PT Cruiser, fully loaded,thinking it would be a great family car. The doors opened at 90 degree angles! We were so stupid.
We waited NINE WHOLE MONTHS for this car, and when our Providence, RI dealer told us it would be at least another three, we started looking elsewhere. We had a cousin tell us he had one similar to our order sitting on a lot in Cleveland. We made arrangements and drove to Cleveland for our new family car.
In 2001, we didn’t have the reliable cell service available today, so we borrowed a friends CB radio for the trip. That sounds so bizarre now, but it was January, an ice storm was expected, and we wanted an emergency back up in the event our 1992 Escort died on the way.
Upon our arrival in Cleveland, we gave the Escort to my sister and announced that I was pregnant with our first born. The trip back to Connecticut involved several stops and Olive Garden as apparently the baby could only eat things covered in tomato sauce.
Shortly after, my new car quietly hummed in the middle of the Q Bridge during New Haven rush hour as I sat wedged in traffic with my empty purse in my lap, certain that morning sickness was going to take priority over driving to work.
Eight month later, this car sped the 50 miles to the hospital so that baby #1 could be born a quick 2 hours later. Happy new family drives home.
Two years later, we welcome baby #2 in another ice storm, and family of 4 places two car seats into the back. Woo-hoo for doors that open 90 degrees!
Soon after, we attempt to squeeze grandma between the car seats. One simply does not squeeze grandma anywhere, so I ride wedged sideways between the seats. Perhaps we need a minivan.
We buy a minivan, become a minivan family, and our beloved PT Cruiser becomes the ‘Dad car’ that the kids enjoy on special occasions. The car rode in the moving van to Michigan, not large enough to cart the family and mom swollen with baby #3 seven hundred miles.
Our PT Cruiser has seen babies, beaches, once, we piled a 7 piece dining room set into the cracks and crevices of its interior and exterior, safety of flying furniture never considered. It has seen playdates, oceans, countless hours driving across the eastern end of the country. Rush hour in Manhattan, weekends in Philadelphia, August on Martha’s Vineyard. Once a friend and I ruined her winter driveway with kitty litter as the two of us attempted to push it up hill in the snow. Another time I drove over a curb and gutted some really important part, seizing the engine on a highway at 5:00 in the morning. The memories are endless!
The car is closing in on its 14th year. There are rust spots and a weird crack in the dash board. The kids have no idea what the cassette player is for. The car has a funky smell similar to used motor oil, but not quite.
My husband is all about upgrading. Something shiny with new car scent. Possibly a back-up camera
But I love that car. Not so much the car, due in part to the weird smell, but everything the car signifies. Every moment with the car in the background. Every day that’s passed with the babies turning to toddlers and to adolescents.
Fourteen years with a car is a long time. If we keep the next car as long as this one, we could have grandkids riding in it.
I can honestly say this car was worth the wait, way back when. Worth every minute.
What do you have a hard time saying goodbye to because of its time with your family?
Rhaea is a graduate of the University of Toledo with degrees in Broadcasting and English. She tampered with a variety of careers with fancy titles – including Network Production Coordinator for ESPN, Academic Assistant at the Yale University School of Medicine, and HypnoBirthing Childbirth Educator – before settling on her no-fancy-title-needed life calling of stay-at-home Mom. Although her children would be shocked to realize she has other things to keep her busy, she is also a Sunday school teacher, a Judge-Referee for the US Rowing Association, on the board of Community in Schools of the Tecumseh Area, and teaching assistant and former President of Little Indian Preschool in Tecumseh. After living in Connecticut for many years, she has spent the last 6 years in Tecumseh with her husband Lee, son Avery – age 10, and daughters Ruby and Rita – ages 8 and 6. She firmly believes that raising children can either make you laugh or cry, so take the bull by the horns and make it all good and funny.by