Friday, August 18, 2006

The Desperation Altima.

The story of my car.

In May of 2001, life was good. My husband was district manager for an international company. I had a good job with another international company. Boy was in college and girl was graduating from high school with a full scholarship to FSU. We were finally on the path to a comfy middle age and a decently early retirement.

My husband had been having some physical problems, but nothing that kept him from working out and working 50-60 hours a week, and he was, I think, 46 at the time, so nobody took it too seriously. He'd lost weight but not to an unhealthy degree, and he was also working 60 hours a week and working out, so this wasn't exactly an alarm bell. Skipping the details, but nothing signaled Something Really Bad until June, when he developed a lump in his leg that hurt. He went through tests, we were supposed to go get the results of the tests when I got a call at the office. From him. He was in an ambulance, on the way to the hospital. His femur had fractured. That pain had blown into a huge bone tumor that broke the bone - a pathologic fracture, I learned in doctorspeak. It took them a week to find the cause of the cancer, his kidney. He had NO signs of renal cancer until it was stage 4.

Everything about the entire world blew the hell up that summer. The car is just a souvenir of the shitstorm. I was driving an Isuzu Rodeo - I loved it. I bought it used at Carmax the previous year, it was an old fashioned no frills truck. It had AC. It was a stick, it was primitive, it was cheap. It got me around, and I could fit almost anything I wanted to carry in it, and it suited me.

After the initial long hospitalization, my husband was sent home to die. But with radiation treatments as palliative care. (Remind me to tell you what is now my second greatest lawyers are dicks story of all time in connection with this part.) I had to get him around, and I drove a tall 4WD, and his busted leg was pinned and in a splint contraption and he was too weak to move around easily. This was not going to work. Cut to the chase, I ended up at Carmax doing an on-the-fly trade, which left me with a comfortable but totally not me Altima, purchased because I could fit a wheelchair in the trunk. Now THERE is a reason to buy a car! And take on a fat new car payment too! My life, it has been nothing but luxury and pissing away money, that's why I'm in debt!

I am still driving it 3 years after he died, 5 years after he was sent home to die, so I've had this fucking car for five years, because I had to replace a falling apart kitchen and a hurricane-wrecked roof and the entirely dead landscaping, they were all goners and the car still runs, so I was a big girl and kept driving the Car of Bad Karma. But the next thing on the When Catherine Has Money list is getting rid of this goddamn car. And that is why it is the Desperation Altima. And why I can't wait to wave bye-bye, but I am not quite ready to take on a car payment yet. So I work my ass off to keep the house alive and save for retirement and eventually get a car. And I'm glad I have a good job now, and that's why I'm so freaking thrilled by the profit sharing, because a year ago I was making a lot less and on a "pittance bonus and a pat on the head" career path.

I can't afford to go to Europe, I can't afford to redecorate, or move, but I at least have to get rid of that fucking Altima.


ChelleC said...

You've been through a hell of a lot, and weathered it well. I hope you get to go to Europe someday. And get a decent car to replace your "Desperation Altima."

Martha said...

Missy C,
Honey, you deserve a different car & on so many levels too.
I am glad that you have this job & w/these benefits - ditto the "You deserve this!" tho't.