Posted by: ME | February 17, 2011

The Most Imperfect Minivan

My minivan started out in a heavenly situation, complete with a man who loved her dearly and kept track of every single time he put oil or gasoline in her, the date and mileage, as well as the cost and where he got this done. When I bought it from him, the notebook remained. I think it is still in there, some where.

My grandparents were travelers who were blessed enough to spend their retirement traveling to every state, except for Alaska. They had it booked, and then my grampa fell ill and they had to cancel it (this is the short version to those who know their story better than I do). They started out their retirement with a Winnebago, and as the years went on, the mode of transportation and sleeping quarters got smaller and smaller-down to the minivan with the lift for their scooters and enough money to stay in hotels on their travels. Sadly, they had the minivan for about 2 years, put on 4,700 miles, ran it into a Walgreens with minor damage that was fixed, before having to succumb to selling their home and minivan to live in a very nice assisted living facility. It literally made my grampa sick to have to sell everything, especially that van. He loved that van. He couldn’t even look at it after we bought it from him. Or take a ride when we offered. My grandmother, too, couldn’t bring herself to take a ride in it.  Not that it was trashed or “more lived in”, but because it was a reminder of the inability to take off on some adventure.

We were offered this minivan on a couple of occasions for the price that it was worth, its face value. We told them no because I was “not a minivan gal”. I just wasn’t. There was NO way I was gonna own a minivan.

A few months went by and they were dragging their feet getting it ‘de-lifted’ to sell it(or something) and we came into a situation(that I cannot recall) that required us needing a new vehicle. Ugh. The minivan was a great price and only had 4,700 miles on it. We looked around at bigger cars and SUV’s and realized that with kids, the minivan was a GREAT deal and after the third and last offer on it, we decided to buy it from them.

I have 2 kids, one was a toddler and one was a preschooler, so the minivan was a godsend after a few months of having it. No more back aches getting kids out of car seats. The door opened automatically and this was a fabulous thing at the grocery in the parking lot with 2 little ones……

After many many years, we still have this minivan. It is 10 years old this year and we’ve had it for about 8 years. It is WELL loved.

My grampa is turning in his grave.

We talked about this today, about how much LIFE this van has seen. By LIFE, you know I mean; drink spills, who knows how old french fries stuck in the holes that keep the seat in place, crayons, pencils, change, juice, water, cheerios, snacks from road trips and various other nasty episodes you have with kids in a minivan this well-loved.

We’ve deep cleaned it about once a year and try to keep it at least food free for a while at a time, but it’s almost impossible with field trips and road trips and family vacations.

I’ve (head down ashamed here) wrecked it 2 or 3 times. Every time, I thought of my grampa, shaking his head over his beloved van. Poor van.

Today, I cherish this beauty, Oh, it’s a mess and it has its upkeep and my husband takes care of it well. No, he does not write it all down in the notebook. This van has been a blessing and I hope it gives us as many more years as an American made minivan can. I actually pray for her to keep going. Every year , I pray for one more year….. one more year, please. More in desperation because as a one income household, a car note wouldn’t be a good thing.

Even though my relationship with my grandparents was  strained, it IS part of the reason I want it to keep going, too. Every time I get in, I see the Avon car angels my grandmother put on the visor, and the “no smoking” sign is up there too that they put in there. The console still holds a business card for my grampa’s woodworking hobby turned business. The valet key is still on the key chain he had it on. And I’m pretty sure that the notebook still remains in the minivan somewhere.

I’ll have to dig it out.




  1. What a great story! I hope your beloved mini-van gives you many more years of service! We have friends who feel the same way about their mini and have had it for ten plus years. When the transmission went out last year, it was going to cost them more to fix it than the van was worth. They still chose to fix it instead of buying a new car. After weeks of driving around in a rental, they realized they missed their van terribly. It’s lovingly known to all as “The Swagger Wagon.”

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