Recently, I read the book “The Last Letter from your Lover” by Jo Jo Moyes. It’s a bit of a haunting story that revolves around missed opportunities for love, largely due to timing.
It reaffirmed for me a theory that my husband and I have long had about that very subject, and how often timing plays a critical - yet unseen - role, until the benefit of hindsight becomes available.
But it’s not just love stories that rely on timing. I think so much in life really does.
And so that brings me to the story of how we added a third car to our family. (Yes, seriously. Bear with me!)
I've been wanting to add a 3rd car to our household ever since we got our 3rd licensed driver, or about 3 months ago now. But the timing wasn't right and - warning - full honest parent mode here - our newly licensed driver hasn't always made the most responsible decisions with that privilege and so, we put it off - er- waited.
Then this week we were faced with what I had feared, a reduction in usable vehicles during an especially busy time (even by our insane standards.) So I looked online at the dealership we love, saw a vehicle that fit our needs, and pretty much decided we were going to buy it and put an end to this. And let me tell you- when I make up my mind on something I've been deliberating on for 3 months, it's going to happen. (Just ask my poor husband!)
So today, we bought a third car. Literally while my car was getting a new battery and new brake pads 100 feet away, (and while my husband was riding a bus to Iowa with the soccer team) I test drove and then signed the papers for that “new to us” car. I shuffled between the service dept. and the finance dept. and probably earned a new level of crazy - er- loyal customer in the 3 hours it took to get all of that done. I mean, when the service department calls to tell you your car is done and you tell them you're just down the hall buying another- yeah, that was my afternoon.
What I have learned in this life is that we need to have good, reliable people we can count on to help us navigate some of the trickier moments. I’m lucky enough to count on my team a good lawyer, a good accountant, a good financial investment advisor, and a good mechanic. All of them have helped me navigate so much and their presence in my life has helped fill some of the void left by my dad.
Another one of those is Brad May - who has seen us through the "minivan to SUV back to minivan (x3) transitions of our growing family. We always knew one day he'd help us find the "kid car." - a concept that used to seem so laughably far off in our future. Over the years we have bought six cars from Brad. Yes, six. Once we even bought two at once but that’s another story. Brad has always been to us exactly the kind of salesperson I love- never pushy, taking the time to listen and help us find a vehicle that met our needs and budget, honest, and dependable. He’s treated us exactly the same whether we were buying a brand new car or making an even trade for a different one. The level of ease we’ve always felt with him is a gift.
But today, in the flurry of e-mails back and forth to him as we tried to hammer out some details of this latest purchase, another e-mail came in. This one was sent out to a group and it explained that Brad is leaving the dealership and the area in order to begin a new chapter in his life as his wife's job has them re-locating with the opportunity to also be closer to his adult daughters.
For him, the move is about - you guessed it, timing.
For us, the timing was good because as it turns out, if we had waited even a week longer, it wouldn’t have been Brad who helped us buy this car. In fact, ours might be the last car he sells.
Maybe it seems silly to feel emotional about that but I suspect if you’re lucky enough to have a “Brad” in your life, you understand.
And then, there’s more.
I was filling out the finance paperwork when I noticed our loan rate of 7.09%. I smiled and explained to the woman that I suddenly felt very peaceful that we were doing this at the right time, because that was a message from my dad. 709 has long been a “signal” and I don’t believe in coincidences. Then (and I didn't realize the significance of this until later) she asked me what color the car is because it's called "Whistler" and she wasn't sure what that meant? It didn’t actually hit me until Ethan was looking the car over in the falling darkness and innocently asked, “what color is it?” As I answered, “It’s called Whistler,” I gasped a little. (My dad was famous for his love for whistling.) Oh, and Whistler is basically silver, in case you’re wondering.
So, here I sit. I didn't fully anticipate all the emotions this purchase would bring up in me today. I thought we were making a practical purchase and more than once I've explained how a third vehicle isn't so much for the teenager as it is for us. But I actually had butterflies of anticipation as I drove it home, eager for Ethan to be let in on the secret we'd been keeping. And while on the surface it may seem like just another family who bought their kid a car, the reality is we've had to work hard and shift some things and make some sacrifices to make this happen today and I'm feeling very blessed for the ability to do so. I certainly don’t take it for granted. I wonder if it's how my dad felt when he changed his mind on the "no teenager should have their 'own' car" stance and parked that 1986 Pontiac Sunbird on the driveway for me to find when I got off the bus that February morning of my junior year of high school.
I wish I could ask him.
I suspect he's already given me the answer.
So- timing. I’m not a patient person (see above re: mind made up/must act now) but I do recognize and appreciate these little lessons when I experience them. Yes, it’s just a car. Of course. I guess. But that doesn’t mean it can’t also be a vehicle (see what I did there?) to convey a little life lesson, complete with a few reassuring signs that the time was right.
Thanks Brad. We’ll miss you.