My Father had a full-sized, long, wide Cadillac Fleetwood with white sidewall tires which my kid brother wanted to drive.
Dad, who loved music, literature, and art, did not approve of my brother -- his slang, his pals, the music he played, or his flashy clothes -- especially the white buckskin shoes he wore every day, and polished every night. (They looked like this photo.)
They argued a lot and it worried Mom. Dad was taking medication for high blood pressure. Even so, we were a loving, close-knit family. Before my brother went off to college, he saved up his allowance and bought himself a second-hand convertible -- more than 10 years old, but still a snazzy car -- if you pressed the buttons and shoved a little, the top magically lifted off.
At Antioch College, in early April just before the spring break, my brother and a friend went canoeing. A woman saw the two boys, the upside-down canoe in the water, and called the police. The water was killing cold. They didn't find my brother's body till a week later. It tore our family apart.
That summer my father had a series of small strokes. My newlywed sister didn't see much of my parents -- she and her husband did a lot of socializing with his family and ritzy neighbors. My older sister got involved with a young lover, separated from her husband, moved to NYC with her baby daughter, and worked for a publisher.
Daddy died that September. The Fleetwood sat in our garage till the Susquehanna river flooded about a year later, and Mom sold everything and moved to a much smaller house. I never saw the house. In New York City, I connected with a dance partner. We choreographed solos and duets and I started booking a tour of college campuses. We used money Mom gave us. With money she got from Daddy's life insurance, Mom bought us a Chevrolet station wagon for our tour. While we were touring, Mom moved to a nursing home.
Life moves on. My older sister's daughter, who lives on the west coast is like my daughter now -- she reads my blog and comments on it. One of my middle sister's seven children -- a daughter -- is on Facebook, but I have no contact with her or my sister's other offspring, though I'd like to know more about them. Also my husband's huge southern family -- I've never really fitted in with them. Even so, every August 22nd, I am aware that it's my brother's birthday. He never got to drive his convertible with the top down. I remember there were only three cars in his funeral chain, but a long, long line of cars that escorted Mom and me in a stretch Cadillac limo to Daddy's funeral.
That 2016 Cadillac -- the evolution of it -- that it's now more attainable inspired me to drive around in my past wishing -- wishing that my brother hadn't died, wishing the family hadn't been torn apart.
Hey, why am I sharing this story? Why have I been thinking about the price of cars, studying photos of Cadillacs and convertibles -- like this old 1963 Beetle which belonged to Paul Newman -- it looks like the one my brother bought except his was yellow.