• Paula Tiberius

Eulogy For A Car

The insurance company called today to tell us that our Toyota Matrix was a complete write-off. I was surprised for some reason, even though technically I did possess all the the facts that pointed to this dire conclusion.

My husband Richard called me last Tuesday night from the 5 Freeway having rear ended a car while merging in high speed traffic somewhere near the Griffith Park Zoo. The speed alone should have clued me in that the car wasn’t going to survive the insurance claim, but somehow it didn’t seem real, probably because I wasn’t there to witness the crunched front end and say something helpful like, “Holy fuck, the car is totaled!”

Here is where I should tell you that my husband is a superhero of sorts when it comes to pain. He has withstood some ridiculously treacherous surgery to his head and back over the years and I never know exactly how hurt he is in any given painful situation. This was no exception. When he called from the freeway he sounded so calm and in control that I stupidly assumed it was a fender bender, despite the fact that he kept referring to it as a ‘wreck.’ I dismissed that term as a colloquialism from his hometown, something his people must have used for anything from a scratch to a bona fide accident.

Only as the facts began to trickle out and his body began to seize up over the next few days did I realize that this was a full-impact high speed collision in which he was lucky not to have been hurt worse, and the car was totaled.

My husband’s injuries aside (that’s a whole separate blog), I was truly sad to hear the news about the car today, so much so that I went with Richard to identify the body, and to retrieve all our belongings from the glove compartment and the bulging pouches in the back seat.

On the way to the collision repair shop, I thought about all the good times in the ol’ Matrix over the last three years. From the initial excitement of purchasing a ‘real car’ by myself while Richard was in rehab and I was pregnant driving a 1977 Mercedes Benz that ran on vegetable oil and had a maximum cruising speed of about forty-five miles an hour, to the road trips with our month old baby to Lake Tahoe and Palm Springs. (sniff) It was a good car and had plenty of life left in it.

I regret that I rarely washed it, and often it was encrusted with sticky stuff from semi-arid flowering plants and random bugs. I feel guilty that it was so messy on the inside today that we filled two paper grocery sacks full with assorted junk that apparently was never deemed important enough to carry down to our house, but which suddenly took on urgent necessity after the death of the car. CDs, discarded toys and clothing that we would NEVER SEE AGAIN unless we came to claim them! There is an urgency in death, people, don’t kid yourselves.

So now all I’m left with are my memories and the hopeful thought that the insurance company will be kind to the car’s legacy and give us the full Blue Book replacement cost. Rest in peace, my Matrix.

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