My head pounds as I drive the familiar roads out of town. Today I bring my dad’s car to the second, smaller building off Sunrise Highway that is Rockville Centre’s pre-owned Lexus dealership. The constriction in my chest and lump in my throat reveal the letting go required to sell this car at all. I wonder how I will find my vocal chords.
As the blacktop slips beneath the car, my eyes are drawn to the center console and I notice the time – 11:11 a.m. It is a holy time and I believe my dad is with me, giving me his permission. I relax, breathing in the minty scent of the car he dearly loved. My mind drifts to an earlier time.
“Dad, I’m on Singer Island. Can you get down here?”
“To see my daughter and grandchildren? You bet I can! Besides, I have something to show you.”
An hour later my cell rings.
“Wendy, I’m in the front parking lot, can you meet me?”
“Dad – is this a new car? What color is that?” I ask. My kids surround the captive vehicle, uttering ohhs and ahhs, a sense of respect registering in their expressions. “Awesome car, Poppie!”
“Isn’t she beautiful?” my father coos as though he is speaking to a baby. “The car practically drives itself. The color is Glacial Ice.” With his words, the Florida heat seems to diminish ever so slightly.
Lexus pre-owned does not know what they are getting, I think, as I drive onto their crowded lot. There is no amount of money they can offer that is worth what once belonged to my dad. I kill the engine, reveling in the soft, luxurious silvery-grey leather. I take a moment to examine the details; the pinstripe with his initials – W.P. – and mine before I got married, the top flight navigation system, the back up camera. My father did not skimp on the accoutrements. Emerging from humble roots and working hard, he allowed himself the splurge. I take a deep breath and stroll from the sweltering parking lot to the air conditioned office.
“Hi, are you the lady from Merrick?”
I sit across from a nondescript desk while he shuffles and reviews papers. The experience is surreal and I detach in order to get through it. But my head and chest pound. He tells me he needs double signatures on the check which he cannot get now. “Can you return in a few days
?” he asks.
In the car again, the radio plays James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain.” I turn from solid flesh to human puddle.