November 9, 2016: Towed Yet Again

~by Louis Templeman


Once again I sat in the passenger seat of a tow truck with my 1998 Dodge Caravan strapped down on the bed behind me. This is the fourth time in three years. I have made a decision. No more repairs. This van has become a money pit. New transmission, new engine, water pump replaced twice, serpentine belt changed four times. A/C fixed twice. I cringe to think I almost had the A/C fixed again, a week prior this fun ride. This van is the poster vehicle for “good money after bad”. And, I have so little good money. The majority of the repairs have been a gift from my mother. She needs a break, too.

As I was driving up the Dames Point Bridge the transmission lost its grip. I just had the roar of the engine with no forward power. I managed not to panic even though I got very nervous. There are no shoulders on this bridge and it is nearly a mile long, up and down. I put the shift in Neutral and then placed it back in Drive. It caught and got me over the hump. The transmission continued to do the same thing and in a mile or two I came to the Pulaski Rd. exit. It was a slow decent and I was going about thirty-five miles an hour. A great thing happened – a grace, serendipity or blessing, take your pick. I coasted all the way to the Kangaroo Store and Gas Station to a parking place.

Once I parked I realized I had forgotten my phone, as well as my afternoon dose of my various medicines. I was overdue on my Parkinson’s meds and was becoming more and more symptomatic with a “whole lotta shaking goin’ on”. However, I was so thankful that I was not on the bridge or on the side of I-295. Inside the Kangaroo I found very friendly workers. They let me use the phone to call my AAA hotline and request roadside help.

The phone call was as difficult as the car trouble. My left hand was trembling so bad it was nearly useless. And, I was so nervous I was trembling all over. My right hand was shaky as well. Holding a phone to your ear as your own hand involuntarily uses it as a cudgel to bang your temple and tap dinging buttons on the digital screen as you speak, while trying to read numbers off your membership card and then get the street address from the store clerk, is both embarrassing and frustrating. It served to make me more nervous. But, I must add, the affliction elicited pity and help from the clerks. The pity was well-timed. It turned out OK. The car was towed home.

Thinking back over this adventure, the thing that worries me most was the trembling that was overwhelming my entire body. In terms of car trouble this incident was minor compared to others I have endured. It is not the car falling apart but my body falling apart that is truly troubling. My wife comforted me by reminding me that it was Thanksgiving weekend, with its attendant stress; I just turned sixty-six and that can be troubling; I was hour behind on my medicine; I was nearly stranded in an old wreck on the Dames Point Bridge and now I am without transportation. We will have to share one car, which will be inconvenient, but entirely do-able.

Her words certainly took some of the sting out of the moment. However, I do have a progressive disease and it is not unreasonable to be nervous over it. Perhaps, it will do well to see my vehicle incident as a living metaphor that reflects well on my future. So, I choose to believe that as my vehicle of flesh breaks down I will by God’s grace be able to place her in Neutral and coast to a final parking spot where I will find very friendly attendants who will make my passage from point to point easy and maybe, even effortless. God be with you.

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Louis writes from Jacksonville, Florida where he lives with his old friend and wonderful bride, Joy. They transformed their friendship into the sacrament of marriage on August 30, 2012. They share their home with two self-absorbed, playful, twin cats (Flo and Jet) and one very allusive and arrogant cat named D. Louis has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and is fighting the good fight. Much of what he writes these days he is sharing his journey with us. Please keep Louis and his wife Joy in your prayers.

CLICK HERE to visit Louis’ Catholic Journeyman Archive

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