I received word today that the insurance company considers my red Toyota Corolla a total loss after we were rearended two weeks ago. Ouch.
Yes, I have to find another car within the next few days and yes, all this will cost extra money, but that’s not the big story. For many years, I’ve developed relationships with certain objects in my life and none has been as profound as Scarlet and me.
Jody and I bought Scarlet in 2012, and even though she was officially our second car after Hugo, we tripped around in her a lot, mostly with me as the driver. I sold Hugo a year ago and sometimes afterwards I’d look over at Scarlet’s passenger seat to sense Jody in animated conversation with her husband.
Scarlet has taken me to so many concerts and sporting events in Toronto since Jody’s death. I remember one blinding blizzard on the way home. I knew we had to get off the 401 and I could only dimly make out the tall reflectors on the exit ramp near Guelph. I trusted Scarlet to make the curve and she pulled through for both of us.
The grand adventure was to Western Canada in the summer of 2015. I wanted to visit some old friends and spend time with a few of Jody’s relatives, some of whom I’d never met. Scarlet and I roamed all the way to Victoria, B.C., and I enjoyed being with my former wife Rita in Vancouver. The span of Canada west of Ontario rolled with our wheels, including a harrowing trip south of the Trans-Canada Highway in Manitoba to find the city of Steinbach in the pummelling rain. With the gas tank reading zero. Thanks again, Scarlet.
Then there was the fire near the Coquihalla Highway in British Columbia, which threatened to leap across the road. That was terrifying. Contrast that with the immense peace of Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island, and more sublimely, with the spirit of the fine folks I sat down with in every province from here to there. Scarlet and I were together through it all.
Today it ended, although Scarlet’s soul will remain with me.
I took out all my personal belongings at the body shop. And last were the piles of quarters sitting in the change container. It was time to say goodbye. Scarlet was up a couple of feet from the floor. I leaned over the driver’s seat and kissed her steering wheel, a padded one that was full of Bruce finger impressions. I stood in front of the hood, put my hands down onto the dust, and said …