Grits and Purls

Spinning yarns about the grit of life

mg1My dad had never before purchased anything on eBay, so I was a little surprised when I got his phone call.

“How far is Middleton, WI, from you?”

“Not far. Why?”

“Well, I was the high bidder for a beautiful little 1978 MG Midget on eBay that is in Middleton. It is apparently in excellent condition, only two owners, low mileage. It’s yellow, the color your mom wanted me to paint the one I was fixing up for her.”

My mom and dad had been married for 55 years when Mom died. We have a movie from the 1950s that shows them playing in the snow in Georgia. Mom is using Dad’s old blue Ford as cover while she throws snowballs at the camera. She’s smiling, her hair is tied up in a scarf, and she throws an amazingly wicked snowball for a girl who grew up in Florida.

I called the owner of the MG and introduced myself as the high bidder’s daughter and arranged to pick up the car. He took me for a test drive around his neighborhood; I practiced moving through the gears with the shifter. I had to learn to lift up on the handle to put it in reverse. Soon I was tooling around in a beautiful little 1978 MG Midget and thinking about Mom.

The first cake Mom made for Dad was a checkerboard cake. When she finished making the batter, she did not have enough to fill the cake pans. Lacking additional eggs and sugar, she made up the difference with flour and water. She filled the pans and even had enough to make a second in miniature. When the cake came out of the oven, it looked good, and Mom was pleased. Dad took the cake home, attempted to cut it, and found it very hard. He left the miniature cake on the shelf in the back of his car. The next time Mom saw the cake, it was rock solid. The sun had finished the job.

In June my dad flew to Wisconsin with my nephew to pick up the MG and drive it back to Georgia. The first thing Dad did was put on the tags: the Georgia license plate on the rear bumper and the plate that he had made, painted in Florida Gator colors, and adorned with my mom’s name: “Joy”, on the front.

I once asked my mom if I was an “accident”, since I was 10 years younger than my sister and 14 years younger than my brother. She said, “No, you are not an accident, you are the result of an incredible love between your dad and me.”

Dad and my nephew changed the spark plugs, fixed a brake light, cleaned the windshield and repaired the retrofitted seatbelts. The brakes on the MG were a little soft, but other than that it ran like a dream.

That evening Dad, my nephew and I watched the sun set and the moon rise as we admired the little yellow MG in the driveway. As the full moon rose, Dad reminisced about watching “that same moon” with my mom while sitting in the car on the Tampa Causeway. “You were watching the moon?” I asked, “Mom always said that you two used to go and watch the submarine races.” Dad just smiled.

The MG occupies a prime spot in my Dad’s hangar; he polishes and waxes it to an immaculate finish. He has rebuilt the carburetor and the brakes and replaced the top. The shiny little yellow MG now stands as tribute to an incredible, longer-than-life love.

In memory of Mom, 31 October 1931–8 February 2007.

©2008 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.

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