Red van dies

We were too busy driving to notice, let alone stop and celebrate when our red mini-van’s odometer turned over to 300,000. I intended to write a column about the event, but I was too busy adding on miles to take time to reflect and write. Now it is all over. In our tenth year of ownership, at 341,000 miles, Red has gone to the great junk yard along the road.
Red almost made it there a month ago when the glare of the morning sun on the windshield resulted in an early morning fender bender. Minor damage, but enough on the old mini-van for the insurance company to declare the crunched grill, fender, radiator and compressor a “total wreck.”
My husband refused to believe it. He began scrolling through Internet websites for car parts and ordered replacement parts, hoping to add another 60,000 miles to the old mini-van. A week ago, the insurance company declared Red a vehicular miracle and put it back on our insurance with comprehensive coverage. We celebrated the Red’s return and anticipated a party at 400,000 miles.
Red never made it to the party.
Last week, a day-time drunken driver, without a driver’s license, took a wide turn and smashed into the driver’s side. My husband barely missed a third car, saw the air bag explode and crawled out the passenger door, shaken, but undamaged. Red did not drive away that time. It suffered irreparable damage with its driver’s side crumpled from grill to rear bumper.
After enjoying Red’s interior space – large enough to hold a sheet of plywood inside with the door shut – my husband refused to be without a mini-van. After experiencing the luxury of camping on a mattress in the back, I agreed.
From the day my husband bought Red as a used vehicle, it has been a good 10 years. We bought Red when our previous mini-van died enroute to visit relatives. After some deliberation and a couple phone calls, my husband located two mini-vans at a rental business an hour away: one white, the other red. He went to buy one and returned with Red.
Thanks to fender benders and the car thieves who broke locks only to abandon Red a few blocks away, over time the outside, except for the rear bumper, was totally replaced or repainted. When the major parts failed with age and mileage, we replaced them, including a couple transmission jobs. Thanks to following a regular maintenance regimen, Red went to the great junk yard beside the road with its original engine.
We all depended on Red to haul furniture, lumber and people. At 310,000 miles our son asked to use Red for a church outing. He loaded it down with heavy equipment and energetic teens for a week and returned with no problem. Old horses get put out the pastures. Our mini-van continued to chug along — until that drunken driver smashed it.
We used it up, wore it out, made it did, now we do without – until my husband finds another one … I doubt another mini-van will ever match up to the years with Red
It was a good 10 years.