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Evangeline Passes

Marc Munroe Dion on

I had a pickup truck. Her bloodline is not important, though I will say she was a 2001 and white in color.

Her name was Evangeline. I'm of French descent, and all my vehicles have French female names. Suzanne. Therese. Suzette.

And Evangeline, who last week would no longer start and so was towed away as junk.

These last few years, her air conditioner wouldn't work anymore, three of her power windows didn't roll down either, and I didn't want to put money into such an old truck.

"If you were a dog, it would be illegal to put you in that truck when it's hot," my wife, Deborah, would say on hot summer days.

Of course, that wasn't true. One window still rolled down. I was dog-legal.

But my wife wouldn't ride in Evangeline these last couple of years. The old truck reeked of cigar smoke, and there was the air conditioning/window situation.

But, in the 18 years I owned her, Evangeline took at least as much part in my life as any pet dog.

I took my wife on our first date in that truck, and we drove Evangeline to Montreal on our honeymoon. My mother, who died last February, rode in that truck with me. I drove Evangeline to the nursing home every day in the two years before my mother died in a narrow bed near a window, sleeping among strangers at the end of her life.

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I drove Evangeline through 17 years of my career in newspapers. She was a reporter's truck. She parked with two wheels on the sidewalk at stabbings, shootings and house fires. She took me to boring press conferences and city council meetings; one awful night, she brought me home after the twin towers went down, a day when I wrote with the taste of blood and ash in my mouth. Together, we broke the speed limit, coming back to the paper with election results. Her back seat was adrift with fast-food bags, empty coffee cups and stained press releases. There was an emergency supply of pipe tobacco back there, too, and a rain-proof pullover, in case I went to an outdoor assignment and the weather turned bad.

Evangeline waited for me outside my house, out in front of the paper and out in front of bars. She was always on the street, either driving or resting, because she never knew the luxury of a driveway.

I bought another vehicle. Her name is Genevieve. She has Bluetooth, a rear window wiper and crisply cold air conditioning.

But I will never go on another honeymoon, my mother is dead, and I have retired from daily journalism. Genevieve will have it a lot easier than Evangeline, but I still don't own a driveway because I live in a city, and space is tight. Genevieve sleeps on the street.

If I am too sentimental over an old, dented truck, forgive me. I am 62, and I'm starting to drag a chain of losses. When it becomes too heavy for me to drag, I'll sink back into my lighter childhood -- like my mother did at the end of her life, when she sat in a nursing home wheelchair and talked cheerfully to the nuns who taught her in grade school.

And I'll drive Evangeline, drive her like a knight rides his war horse. I'll flick imaginary cigar ashes out the window and hope we make it to the scene before the EMTs get the dead guy's body into the ambulance.

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To find out more about Marc Dion, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. Dion's latest book, a collection of columns about the rise of Donald J. Trump, is called "The Land of Trumpin'." It is available in paperback from Amazon.com, and for Kindle, Nook, iBooks and Google Play.

 

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