Mother (Almost Never) Knows Best: Driving With The Brakes On: Having to Say Goodbye

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Driving With The Brakes On: Having to Say Goodbye

On the 2nd of May we lost a member of the family and I was unexpectedly heartbroken. Whilst you may think me callous to question my degree of mourning when a member of family passes, I should point out that this particular member of the family was mechanic in nature. I lost my first car. 

At the grand age of 33, I had to part with the car I had had for 13 years and his name was Bartleby. Yes, that is right, I named him. He had one original panel (I'm not that good a driver) but he was in essence, the same; the ever constant in a life that had changed beyond recognition.
The only photo I have of my beloved car.
Excuse the hat.

He was gifted to me on the Christmas of 2004 when I was a medical student about to embark on the clinical element of my training. A time when I would be expected to move from the safety of the small town of St. Andrews to the bustling metropolis of Manchester and transport myself between various district hospitals and suburban GP practices. 

My parents were particularly cruel in their gifting and left me to open a single calendar whilst my brothers unwrapped gift upon gift under the glow of the Christmas lights. Within the calendar they had pierced the cellophane to insert the insurance documents which would reveal my substantial and unprecedented gift were I astute enough to open it. 

I wasn't. 

I waited.

And waited.

Eventually my mother asked me if i had inspected the many depictions of Audrey Hepburn to which I feigned interest and tore the cellophane off allowing the papers to flop onto my lap. I was ecstatic. As a "home girl" I was terrified at the prospect of leaving my family and Scotland, where I had lived since the age of 5, to venture south of the border with only my friends upon whom to rely. This mode of transport was a life line; an escape route in times of trouble and, boy, did he live up to the promise.

At two months old, Bartleby saved a life. It's a story that is not mine to tell but believe me when I say that, without him, I do not know how things would have panned out and I am forever grateful that I need never know. 

When in Manchester he ferried me from placement to placement and took me home when I needed. If you have ever wondered, a 175mile journey on the M6 in a 1.2litre Fiat Punto is less than fun unless you install your own personal karaoke booth. I would recommend Power Ballads and anguished facial expressions to maximise enjoyment. I would not recommend taking your eyes off the speedometre on the downhill as that is where he comes into his own and the Cumbrian police make an awful lot of money out of you for that. 

Whilst a student we, being Bartleby and I, crashed. I was pulling out from a minor to a major road and there was a blind corner. Sure enough, a boy racer tore into the side of me and I emerged unscathed in body but broken in spirit. A kind man in a three quarter length black woollen coat saw the incident and crossed the road to check I was ok, stopping the boy racer mid tirade and holding me while I wept snot riddled tears into his beautiful jacket until my boyfriend arrived. 

At 3 years old he saw me graduate...

When I moved to London for two years, he came with me (the car, not the stranger). He helped me move in with my then boyfriend with all the optimism of a fledgling adult. He then helped me move out of the flat and relationship with my then boyfriend (now husband- long story for those not in the know) having discovered that adulting is hard. He moved me to back to the North West when I bought a house and tried to forge a career in doctoring and shuttled me up and down from Edinburgh as I tried to maintain a relationship with the previous boyfriend who had been reinstated. 

From the age of 4 through 7 he ferried me between hospital jobs...

He moved North with us when we got engaged and continued in his role as karaoke booth and conveyance (but mostly karaoke booth). He saw me change career (which, having carried me through multiple breakdowns following the days of doctoring, he was very glad of) and embark on motherhood. He ferried me from appointment to appointment and held me while I cried about the baby I was going to lose, but then didn't. 

At 7 he saw us get married...

He watched as I cruelly exchanged him for my husband's car after my babies were born and we needed 5 door access. He took my husband to work and transported him from home visit to home visit, witnessing too many ambulances and untimely deaths as is the GP life in the deprived areas of Scotland. 

He worked hard. He was a hard working car and a true member of the family. He lived through so much with us and without him so many things might have been different.

At 11 he saw us become a family of 4...

Whilst I have written this about the car, I really write it for my parents. They gave me that car and without the car so many things may not have been. In all honesty, I may have not married the man I did, I may not have had the relationship with my grandmother that I enjoyed, I may not have had the friends I do now and I may not have felt the freedom to chose a career that made me happy. I know it was a tough decision, as with three children I was the only one to be gifted a car but I treasured that car and all the freedom it gave me; for 13 glorious years. 

R.I.P. Bartleby, we really loved you. 

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