The White Cadillac

This year I have been taking more trips to see my parents in Florida. Everyone needs a little TLC and it’s fun to be chef and chauffeur for them. Most days at lunch, my Aunt Marjorie joins us. At 92, she is the oldest of my Dad’s four siblings, all of whom are all still living. I’m not sure if she appointed herself or if it was assumed that the oldest would be our leader, but she makes sure all family ties are kept strong and intact. She made sure there were family meals, family vacations and letters were sent to all generations for all occasions. She made us realize how important family is whether you lived in town or were back for a visit. Her spirit and energy have been tireless and constant.

Aunt Marjorie has no business driving a car. But, she has been known to sneak out. After fixing lunch on my last trip, instead of waiting for us to come and pick her up, she drove her old white Cadillac to my parent’s house. Yikes! When she was ready to leave she announced that she had not put gas in the car for six months and had no idea how to pump it. She asked if I would go with her to the gas station. It was to no avail when I tried to get her to let me drive. Now I have been in cars with three children learning to drive, have taken the wheel in downtown NYC, and have driven across the country by myself, but I have never been as scared as I was for our one mile trip to the gas station. I am not talking about busy traffic. Lake Butler is a tiny town with three stop lights and a few stop signs. We never stopped at any of these, but we slowly glided through with Aunt Marge telling me to look both ways. At the gas station, I opened the creaky gas cap which was covered with spider webs, leaves and pollen residue from the previous Spring. I stretched the hose to its full extent because I didn’t want her maneuvering the car around the gas tanks. Getting back on the highway she pulled out to just a crawl. I yelled, “Hit it”, because of the oncoming traffic. She slammed on the gas and the car let out a sound like a frantic Mother screaming at a carload of children. Aunt Marge reached over, with a laugh that I have heard all my life, and slapped me on the arm and said, “Did you say hit it?”

Before we headed home she asked if I would stop with her at the local IGA to get her weekly groceries. Pushing the cart around, talking to everyone that went by, we finally pulled up to the cash register. This is where I reminded Aunt Marge of one of my more vivid childhood memories.

Every summer, all of our families would head to the clear, sandy-bottomed Kingsley Lake for a week of fun together. Days were filled with water skiing, visiting on the docks and eating lunches of pimento cheese sandwiches and Lays potato chips. Nighttime brought out the grills and sitting on the screened porch, with the dangling light bulb hanging above a table where we played Canasta and Gin Rummy until the wee hours of the morn. My Great Aunt Mary, (for whom I am named) had taken the Trailways bus from Glasgow, Kentucky, to lead this card playing venture. Every summer, Aunt Marge announced that she had to make sure she could still get up on the Cypress Garden water skies that my Grandaddy had bought years before. She only wanted a quick loop on the lake and that would do it for another year. When the boat pulled Aunt Marjorie out of the water, she squealed and screamed from the beginning to the end. There was applause, shouts of praise and splashing in the water when she finally let go of the rope. That did it for another year.

Now, back to the grocery store. As we were checking out our groceries, I said to Aunt Marjorie, “Remember how you always had to make sure that you could make that water ski ride for one more year?” She was affirmative in her answer. Next question. “Can we just say right here and now that you know you can crank up and drive your Cadillac? Can we just say that this will do it for at least another year?” Aunt Marge began to laugh and handed over the keys. I drove her to her home. Safely.

Knowing when to give up something, even when it is something we have done for a long time is a life challenge. To know that I can still do something’s that I did in my 20’s is satisfying.  Today, when I am learning something new it builds confidence that I am still growing and not stuck in a rut. Knowing when to stop and put areas down can be harder. Acknowledging that we have to say good bye to areas that were easy, fun and so much a part of our lives can be painful. We want to hold on and not go with the change that has to take place.

We all have “white Cadillacs” in our lives. Putting down areas that are no longer good and healthy can run the spectrum. It can be a hobby, a relationship or matters that we stew about and ruminate in our minds. No matter what age or season of life we are in, the Lord wants to continue to bring in the new. This allows us to grow whether we are just starting out at 22 or we are 92. When we finally let go of the old we are able to appreciate our past and look forward to what is new. I don’t need to get on Mr. Toads Wild Ride at DisneyWorld or take a trip to the gas station to remind me of this!

“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV)


3 thoughts on “The White Cadillac

  1. Did I ever resonate with this lifenote! Great story and analogy! I need to digest this and move on. What a wonderful writing. You are just “something”. Is that southern enough? Ha

  2. This is about the best laugh I’ve had in a while and yet it is poignant too, because I remember aunt marge so well. Along with knowing and treasuring the family history (of which she never failed to remind you of your part), she also knew who was going with who to every prom, who died, who lived, etc. Such a cute, cute bird!! And LORD help us all with letting go of the white Cadillacs! Seriously.

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