New chapter continues: Letting go of symbols and possessions

For widows, the farewells continue with the shedding of physical reminders of a mate's life.

For widows, the farewells continue with the shedding of physical reminders of a mate’s life.

It seems like a year has sped by instead of only three months since a new life chapter began, preceded by a death. I never dreamed that getting rid of my late husband’s truck would fill me with despair.

Every day since July I looked out my kitchen window and saw a symbol of the presence of a male at this address. Trucks are usually guy things and Lemonade Man was a great admirer of shiny hunks of metal and chrome.

We recently went a whole six months with only one vehicle. We saved a bunch of money that winter and early spring, even though we no longer had access to four-wheel drive. Inevitably, I watched his eyes scan the line of trucks at a local dealership until one day he spotted a must-have: a Toyota Tacoma already equipped with a tonneau cover,  bed liner, chrome running boards and a backup camera. It came to our house to live, even though a neighbor offered to loan us his truck anytime we needed one.

But it sat in the driveway mostly, because diabetes had reduced my husband’s vision to 20/scary. When he developed mobility problems due to muscle wasting, we purchased a big hunk of corrugated aluminum that fit in the receiver hitch of the truck and folded down to accommodate the mobility scooter he had bought years earlier in anticipation of diminishing health. That carrier was on the vehicle the week he died; never once was it used.

For weeks I had put off the inevitable trip to the nearest Car Max. Finally, I admitted there was no way to drive two vehicles at once, continue making two payments or hold on to a truck just for snow days. Delighted with the offer of purchase, I made arrangements for a ride home, dug out title and payoff information and drove that cute white thing one last time, luckily avoiding another trip to the gas pump. The low fuel light came on just as I turned the corner to Car Max.

So with things going so well, why was I so tearful? I had to choke back a flood of sadness as I signed on the dotted line and watched that symbol of married life driven to the back lot for whatever its ultimate fate would be.

It was one thing to empty a dresser full of brand new underwear or to clean out the garage and donate my late mate’s tools and fishing poles to relatives and charities. The truck was totally different.

Suddenly the singsong rhyme I had just read to my grandson (after reading it to his dad every night 30-some years ago) popped into my head. Except that “Goodbye Moon,” by Margaret Wise Brown now had totally different lyrics. Here’s what happens when reality smacks a widow in the head . . . a head with an already morbid sense of humor:

Goodbye Truck (with apologies to Margaret Wise Brown)

On the great steep driveway

Was a cute white truck

And nearby a flower bed

With roses of deep red

And there were two little dogs and a white cat

Waiting inside for the man with the hat

To come in and fetch them for a ride

Or at least acknowledge them with pride.

But he didn’t come in and greet them with a hug.

He couldn’t, you see

He had left with me

Three months ago next Thursday

For just a short hospital stay.

But he didn’t return

And today it was time

To drive to Car Max and say…

Goodbye white truck.

Goodbye and good luck.

Goodbye yard projects

Goodbye plans to haul things.

Goodbye future door dings.

Goodbye visits and vacations

And hoped-for trips to far-off stations.

Goodbye to the man who was co-pilot.

He always said when he was alive

As I backed down the drive,

“Don’t hit my truck,”

Because one time I did,

In the dark,

Not knowing he would park

Right behind my car in the garage.

Goodbye truck

Goodbye mate

Goodbye to a physical representation

Of good times and bad

Goodbye sweet dreams of all that we had.

So long symbol,

Goodbye physical reminder

Of one whose end could have been kinder.

I know someday I will see you anew

In another time and a special place

Perhaps with a turn of fortunes and luck

You’ll again have a heavenly new truck.