My oldest daughter's first car was a black 2007 Kia Spectra. You know, the one that was not borrowed from Mom and Dad, but purchased just for her. She was a junior in high school.
Over the years it endured hail storms, loss of a mirror, loss of a sun visor, door handles breaking, and moms that borrow the car only to back into a stop sign. It has been her source of transportation to high school, football games, concerts, college, road trips and county fairs. The Spectra has been her memory maker and secret keeper. She has a deep fondness for her car.
When she got married, I figured she would fall into the same trappings of many newlyweds: head out and buy a new car. But she didn't. She actually liked her car. She was not interested in following in the footsteps of everyone else; she loved her life — beat-up 10-year-old car and all. The Spectra provided a sense of security, familiarity and home.
Too often, we are taught that if it an object is old, with a few dings and not a lot of value, that it is time to move on. Successful young newlyweds should embrace their new life with new cars, new homes, new furnishings — new, well, everything. However, there is something about growing up on the farm that teaches kids to value the old, the traditional, and more importantly, the lifestyle. As parents, it is important to expose our children to these values.
When we first moved to our farm, there was no barn, no fencing — only a house and a garage. We built a new barn. Inside, we used old gates and panels from my parents' farm to create pens. Outside, instead of purchasing large corner posts, we located old utility poles that needed to be removed from local ditches. With just our two young girls and me in tow, my husband cut them up, and we lifted them into the truck. We brought them home and placed them in the ground. To this day, they are some of the best corner posts hard labor can provide.
Lessons of reuse
As parents, we tried to show that there are uses for things that others discard. There is life in old items if you are willing to look. And often old, reused items tell a story — or in our case, make the story for our farm. But it wasn't just around the barn and pasture.
In our home, I used rusted tin from our old 4-H rabbit hutches as a backsplash in the kitchen. My mother's corner cabinet and table sit in the dining room. We purchased used leather furniture and a dining room table because they still had a lot of life in them. Things others were ready to discard, we embraced. And it became part of our life, part of our story.
Perhaps that is why it is so hard to let go.
When my daughter's Spectra started making more noises than usual, her concerned husband took notice. She told him to just "ignore it, and it will go away." Still, after more than 230,000 miles, a leaky radiator and worn transmission mounts, her favorite car, we all fear, is no longer worth the money to repair it. It has reached its end. However, I can truly say we have raised a daughter who sees the value in older things.
She wants so desperately to give it more life. She owes it for its dependability. She owes it for providing her safety. She owes it for giving her memories and keeping her secrets. Still, it groans to be let go.
There will always be a time when we can no longer keep the things around us. Whether physically, mentally or financially, we cannot maintain them. Perhaps there is someone out there just like my daughter, looking to make a memory — to rebuild a car with a son or daughter. Maybe there will be another life for our own old items.
All I know is that if you have owned something long enough that it provides you with a story or a moment you can share with others, or even keep to yourself — it was well worth the investment.