Sunday, December 31, 2006

Final Lap

While the rest of us were enroute to the hospital Thursday morning to learn how to care for my mom when she returns, my brother-in-law and the family handyman/chief assistant care-giver (his self-selected title) were preparing for my dad's first drive in his 1929 Model A Ford Tudor Sedan since the new engine and transmission were installed last month.

The old engine died while we out for a breakfast tour in October with the local Model A club. Fortunately, my dad had an engine rebuilt some years ago, and a friend switched the engines and we upgraded to a Ford V-8 transmission with synchro-mesh, elminating the need for double-clutching.

My dad and I have a standard drive we take when we take one of the cars out (he still has 2 Model A's and I have 1 running street-legal one). It's probably a 4-5 mile roundtrip, and, in recent months just riding in the car tires him out enough that we have not really had to confront the fact that he really has no business driving anything.

Unlike his '56 (by now you've figured out we like cars around here and have a few - you should see the ones that got away!) with its power steering, power brakes, wide doors, comfortable seats and working heater, Model A's can be hard to drive. I knew that my dad had high hopes that the F-100 steering and V-8 transmission would make it easy to drive once again.

So they got him all bundled up and into the car (no mean feat, I assure you). "He was so excited," said my brother-in-law. "Like a little kid," said the handyman who followed behind the other two in the '56 "just in case." And off they went. By the first turn, down the block, my dad knew. He turned at the next street, then again and then home. About a mile at most. The trip was over. So was his driving.

"That's the last time I ever drive a car," he said, to no one in particular, as they helped him off with his coat.

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