It was about two months ago that Paul said that he would be gone for the month of August to Mishkeegogamang, a reserve 1000 kilometers north. Although since then the timeframe has been reduced slightly, to about three weeks,leaving this acre of land and a household with endless tasks, grew increasingly hard as his departure last week approached. He drove himself to near exhaustion, weeding gardens, mowing grass and finishing jobs around the house until the last minute.
As well, there was much to do to get ready for the long drive north, and supplies of clothing, toys and food to help gather for a community of people with little in the way of material goods. What is available to buy up there costs much more than here.
The day before he left, Tippy came upstairs looking for a toilet plunger; never a good sign. Paul went downstairs to their apartment to rescue the three Damsels in Distress.
One of Paul's defining characteristics is his burden to make sure that all of his family is taken care of. After that he also worries about looking after the rest of the world. Sometimes the weight of all of the people he carries in his heart is overwhelming.
In the morning we kissed goodbye as I left for work and he left to pick up the van he'd be driving and I started missing him.
That afternoon at the office I told someone on the phone that I had to leave by 2.30 for a birthday party. "This is the highlight of this person's year," I said, "And she will start planning next year's party tomorrow. I cannot miss it!"
I set out in time and as I drove towards the highway I noticed a rattling sound under the car. To my relief though, before long, it stopped, and I carried on towards Barrie. I thought that the car seemed to lose power slightly at one point, but rationalized that it might be my imagination. At the Essa Road exit though, I slowed down for a red light and the lights on the dashboard came on and the engine died. I put on my four way flashers and got out to tell the driver of the car behind me that my car had broken down.
I called the house where the party was to say that I would be missing the un-miss-able party, and next called CAA for a tow to Newmarket Honda.
In the south bound ramp was a tow truck that had stopped so I got out and told the driver; I'll call him, "Big Brad;" that I had a tow truck on the way already. Within minutes he was behind me on my ramp, with lights flashing. I got out and said again that my tow truck was on the way. But he said, "I'll just stay here till he gets here, because you're in a live lane."
"Okay, well thanks," I said, thinking that he was kind.
The CAA tow truck arrived, and I got out of my car again to thank Big Brad and I gave him $5 to have a coffee on me.
He said, "Oh, no, no, that's okay." But I insisted.
When I climbed up beside my tow truck driver and told him I was grateful to Big Brad, he snorted, and called him a vulture. He said, "Big Brad called the police." He had heard it on his CB radio. If they had arrived before the CAA tow truck, they would have asked Big Brad to get my car off the highway and he would have made a quick couple of hundred dollars. I felt naive, but hoped that Brad enjoyed his coffee anyway.
I noticed the photo of a baby on the dashboard, "Is the baby yours?" I asked.
He smiled and nodded and pulled another photo from under it, an older little boy and soon he was telling me how he was going to the park that night with his kids and "the wife."
Before long I was taking down phone numbers and directions for him for his next call. "I gotta get me one of those ear pieces," he said.
I started making phone calls myself, to Brenda. I only got her voice mail, but I left her a message explaining my situation and that I didn't know how I would get home from Honda.I didn't hear back from her though.
"What will you do if she doesn't get the message?" said the driver when we got to Newmarket. I could tell he was feeling badly about leaving. He had already told me that I "shoulda" asked him to drop me off at home on the way.
"Don't worry," I said, "You've got a call in the other direction. They (Honda) won't leave me in the lurch."
And sure enough, after giving the service rep the details about my sick car, he asked me what my plans were now. I told him I didn't know how I would get home. He asked the young man at the next desk if he was busy, and when he said, "No," he was commissioned to, "Take this customer home." I was grateful.
The news wasn't good when Robert from the service department called. The engine was shot. He gave me some prices on a new or reconditioned engine, but said that because my car is 11 years old, "Maybe it's time to think about a new car," and I had to agree; I said I would sleep on it though. Paul didn't use his car to drive north and I was grateful to have it to get around with while I sorted out what to do next.
Brenda called, worried, having got my phone messages at last. She said, "Mom, why didn't you call my work number? I turn my cell phone off when I'm there."
And I called Pete, our son to fill him in and he, too, said, "Mom why didn't you call or email me at work?"
Both of them were protective and concerned.
I asked Pete if he could spare an hour or two the next day to come with me to look at used cars at Honda, although I hated to ask because he is under pressure with an upcoming exam to study for. I knew that I could do it alone if I had to, but having him with me for a second opinion would feel good. He immediately agreed.
So, on Saturday morning at 7.30, Pete was at our place to pick me up for breakfast at Cora's--my treat. It was an unexpected blessing to have breakfast together. Our lives are busy with work and family and Pete's studies. Pete wondered just how much use he would be to me, though. I had already done some online research on the used cars that were available at the Honda dealership and had seen a nice black 2009 Civic with low mileage, fully loaded.
But once we were over the road at Honda, Pete went into analytical mode--his strength. He looked at the car, the good tires, the fact that I have good snow tires on rims. He called R.J. his father-in-law and gave the scenario. R.J. recently had a reconditioned engine put into his car so he asked Pete a few questions and gave some input. We decided to go home and review my car file with the records of what I've had done on the car. Pete asked for a sheet of paper and began to make notes and add up amounts. It seems I've basically rebuilt the car surrounding the engine in the last two years and there isn't too much else that could go wrong.
The reconditioned engine available was coming from a company called Carcones (I had read it as "Car Cones," which didn't sound inspirational, but apparently it is pronounce "Carcon-ees.") Pete went online and looked at the engine. It had 200,000 km on it. My old one had 289,000. I do about 24,000 a year, so if the reconditioned one went as long as my old one, I could get about 3 more years from it. It is guaranteed for one year.
I had $8,000 to put down on a new car, but the one I was looking at was $17,995. After taxes, I would have been looking at a loan of at least $13,000. I would have used up my savings and reduced any flex in my cash flow because of now having car payments. I decided to go for the reconditioned engine.
Pete felt as if he had been useful and felt good about that. And he's going to do further calculations on the ramifications of both options and use it as a case study for his course.
I felt very good about the decision and Paul, who the night before had called from Ignace in the north, and thought I was buying a new used car, agreed, once I walked him through the process we had gone through, that although he would have like to see me in a nice newer car, this was a sound direction to go in.
Leaning into the shelter of family. Sometimes we shelter, sometimes we are sheltered. Either way it feels good.
14 Without good direction, people lose their way;
the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances. (Proverbs 11:14, The Message)