Shonebarger

In a heightened tone of excitement, he announced that he had something to show us. As my father coaxed my sister and me outside, a 1960 Oldsmobile 88 Convertible was sitting in our driveway. It was the most beautiful automobile I had ever seen. Daddy said it was ours.

The car was sleek, with a dark blue body with two-tone blue vinyl seats. Inside, my dazzled eyes beheld the shiny chrome dashboard, with an AM/FM radio. Outside, the red stripe tires and fancy wheel covers were gorgeous.

Under the hood sat an enormous motor that I was convinced would make it go fast. I walked around the car and pushed the driver’s seat forward to assume my accustomed position in the back seat behind the driver. I was ready to experience the exhilaration of this pleasure mobile!

Before we left, Daddy demonstrated putting the top down, as my sister and I watched in total amazement. The beautiful sedan was transformed before our very eyes! Next was Mommy and Daddy getting in the front seats and we were ready to roll. The car key was turned and the sound of the powerful V-8 engine roared. The smell of gasoline captured my senses, as fuel from the carburetor fed the hungry gas-guzzler.

We backed down the driveway and headed north, up 24th Street in Newark, Ohio. I yearned for my daddy to drive slowly, to ensure that all my neighborhood friends could eat their heart out with envy. Absolutely, this was the epitome of cool. I sat up as tall as I could and put my feet underneath me so I could be seen. I quickly learned that the wind would blow in my face because of the top being down. This was the ultimate state of bliss for a 5-year-old kid.

As we cruised the open roads of Central Ohio, I soaked in the sunshine and scents of the countryside. Between passengers in the backseat was a radio speaker. I vividly remember, “I Get Around” by the Beach Boys and “Everybody Loves Somebody” by Dean Martin, playing repeatedly over the airwaves. The sounds of summer accompanied the drive and made it a soundtrack forever embedded in my memory. The summer of 1964.

Within a few months, my dad said he was selling the car. My heart sank! In utter disbelief, I could not understand why he would sell this beautiful dream car and keep our other car, a hideous 1959 Ford. What was he thinking? My young heart was broken.

Within a few days of this revelation, a man arrived at our home and met with my father. He would soon get in the car, with its top down, and he drove it away. It was gone, and I would never lay eyes on it again.

I learned several key lessons with that summer experience.

I learned how heartbreak felt. While it was only a material object rather than a relationship, it still hurt, and I grieved for many months. I learned that my father made a business decision that was not based on his emotions. I learned that my “friends” would revel that the car I bragged about was gone. I had to deal with pride and humility.

I learned that I was alone in my grief. Loneliness amidst heartache is a hard lesson for a 5-year old, but it would be preparatory for my lifelong journey. Finally, I learned to enjoy the moment. Nothing is guaranteed a tomorrow.

I frequently go back into the reserves of my adult memory to replay the highs and lows of my young, developing life. Yes, there were so many teachable moments that continue to impact my perspectives today. I am also whisked away to the summer cruises of 1964 as I hear those old songs play and I retrace the road journeyed in a bygone season of my life.

This may be a defining summer for you. A summer of memorable pleasures and potential life-impacting milestones.

Have a great week and remember, God loves YOU!

Reach Jon Shonebarger at jtshonebarger@gmail.com.

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