It had languished for several decades in an old shed in rural Connecticut. Twenty-two years to be exact. But recently, it awoke from the dead.
A Saint of a Car
I bought a 1973 Volvo 1800ES after seeing it off of the Jersey Turnpike while I was a surgery resident at Penn in Philadelphia in the early 90s. It was similar to the car that Roger Moore drove in the 1960s TV show “The Saint” and was also the car seen on the “Friends” series several decades later. As a Swedish car of Italian design, it had panache, style and, of course, Volvo-reliability. The latter was must, as it could NOT fail in “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” to get me to the hospital. And, believe or not, it never did.
The other important thing it did was to save my soul. Many a time, coming off a long, busy night of hospital call on a Saturday morning, I had a half-day off. After a quick shower and a cup of Joe, this little “glassback” and I would head out of Philadelphia, as if toward Mars, and meander around Amish country in Lancaster county. Felt like a million miles away.
After residency training ended, I drove the car to Connecticut and left it behind my mother’s house, in a shed in the woods, and went on with my life in Texas and California. And, from time to time, for no good reason, I thought about that-little-Volvo-that-could.
The Bitter Truth
“Time to get rid of the car, Paul,” my mother kept saying. But how? I had great memories in that car…it had kept me sane. “OK” I told her, “I’ll sell it as a parts car on Ebay.” The last time I said this, several months ago, I could tell she was getting upset.
Father as Savior
In steps Dad. He couldn’t have timed it better. A touch over 80-years old, a little achy, moving slowly, he is still a car guy at heart. “Paul, what are your plans for that piece of junk in the shed?” he asked me recently. “Dunno Dad, thinking of selling it to a vintage parts guy back East or maybe on Ebay.” “I’m gonna go look at it and call you later.” Good. Maybe he can help me sell it. Maybe he wants to fix it up and drive it. Who knows? It’s been 25 years since he’s been under a car throwing wrenches around. But boy was he good when he was doing it.
A week or so later, I get a call from Dad at 11pm and he’s all excited, like a kid with new sneakers. “Paul, there’s no structural rust. Had it towed to a shop I trust and the old farts are fawning all over it, calling it a ‘barn find.’ It even started first time around! What do you want to do now?” I paused and smiled.
“Dad, you in?”
“Me too. Let’s do it.”
So, Dad and I are going to get this old Volvo on the road again. Make it run and make it run hard. I told him to supervise the project…bring the guys some beer and hang out with them on Saturday mornings. I also have a funny feeling that this little project will add a good 3-5 years to his life. Maybe more when he learns that I am giving the car to him to drive around the back roads of Connecticut when it’s done.
Apples really don’t fall far from trees, do they? Thank God for Fathers. Where would we be without them!