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A Tale of Two Trucks

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I’m sentimental. I am wondering if there is a word that could indicate a lot more excess of emotion than that, because if there is, that would more accurately describe who I am. I keep too many things that mean something to me, or there are too many things that mean something to me. I don’t think it’s reached neurosis status… of course most people don’t recognize there neuroses.. that why they are neuroses.. I am guessing its close call on whether or not I have escalated to the neurotic level.

To illustrate let me give you an example: Jake’s truck.

In the hot summer of 2005, freshly back from a tour in Iraq, when by his own admission, he had a new lease on life, oldest son Jake decided to go into business for himself. He had high hopes. With a college degree in Political Science, from an excellent college, he wasn’t trained to do anything. He had learned all about hauling, big heavy stuff around in Iraq on his tour because he either drove Heavy Equipment Transport Vehicles, commonly known as HETs or provided security for them. He made the plunge. He would own a hot shot delivery service, ready to tow 27,000 lb at a moment’s notice. And he would do it with the heart and soul of a man who loved God and loved serving.

The day he got the truck, he was proud and nervous. Mostly proud, I think. What guy doesn’t like a really big truck? And this was one. Ford Motor Company made something that could pull a 40 foot flat bed trailer loaded with just about anything you could stack on it. It was a white F450, flat bed, gooseneck fitted, diesel pick up, that ate up the road and fuel. Jake, ever the romantic, had named his company Sola Gratia Logistics. Not many hot shot drivers, heck, truck drivers in general, favor Latin in their company name choice, but Jake was on a mission. It said what he believed. With a dose of obsessive compulsive, Jake recognized probably a bit too intensely, his sinful nature. He liked, no, he counted on God’s grace.

When Jake’s accident happened, amid the whirlwind of memorial services and jagged tearing tears as I ran the water in my bathtub every night (we all look for places to cry in private when your heart is tearing apart), we had to decide on what to do about his dream and so for the next two years, we, his family and one of this best friends, ran his business.

It wasn’t long before we recognized that expansion would be necessary if we seriously wanted to see things move forward and into the modest fleet of one, came one more F450, the 2008 version.

Now, I don’t know about you, but a Ford F 450 crew cab Flatbed, is not the most charismatic vehicle on the road. Hardly like those camaros that keep smiling at me, seductively, everytime I see one. But there aren’t any other vehicles out there that carry the memories in them that the 2005 F450 did for me.

Memories of me riding with Jake on some of his runs because he had managed to get bitten by a spider, which swelled into a huge abscess on his leg. The man had been through Iraq, driving through IEDs and despite this overly protective mothering, he acquiesced to my riding shotgun. Watching him behind the wheel, him showing out a little bit on backing that 40 foot trailer into the most impossible places, the athletic grace of youth as he bounced off and on the trailer, strapping and pushing loads into place, I marveled then as I do now, at just how good God has been to me in the gift of my sons.

There were memories of seeing him open the little green New Testament he kept in the glove box.

And then there is that memory of him, when out of the blue, looking over at me, driving calmly and serenely, his blue green eyes slightly unreadable, he would say, “Love ya, Mom.”

You never know what series of unfortunate events might assail you, but when enough of of them happened, not a one of us involved denied it was time to stop doing what we were trying to do with Sola Gratia. The obvious outfall of that was that the trucks and trailers, or at least some combination of them would need to be sold.

I reasoned, rightly, that one F450 was necessary for Pineknot Farm and Lab. I would keep Jake’s truck. So with the background of long standing work experience in multiple members of my family for used car sales acumen, I started trying to sell the 2008. In a bad economy. For a lot of money, because it was almost new.

It took me right at a year and a half of no success, despite a lot of trying, when I had to admit, I couldn’t sell it. Bringing that 2008 back from yet another failed auction about two months ago, I felt myself let go a little bit inside, a letting go of sentiment, a letting go because some things in this world dictate you have to, a letting go that cost you nothing because it doesn’t do away with the reason that the sentiment kept you all tied up.

“Jake, this is mom.” I said to myself that day. “What would you do if you were me, Son. I could probably sell your truck, it wouldn’t take me long.”

The memory of Jake, the spirit of who that son of mine is, filled my mind, and right then and there, as if I could hear him (I couldn’t, so don’t get scared), the words “Heck, Mom, take the newest one for the farm. That’s what I’d do. “I think Dan would like your truck, Jake,” I finished.

It didn’t take me two weeks. I cleaned her up so nice for Dan, a man who builds beautiful things with his hands. I checked her fluids one last time. I thought about Jake’s foot on that pedal and his obsession about smells and how he had filled the cab with the scent of the clean outdoors. I breathed in one last time as I sat in the driver’s seat.

I considered transferring all that had kept me loving that old 05 to the Pineknot Farm and Lab 08 workhorse. I thought about it hard. One might say I attempted it. It wasn’t possible.

After all, that old 08, its just a pile of nuts and bolts and power, one that makes farm life easier. Beyond that, she’s nothing more. To me at least.

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