In June 2011, not long after graduating high school and passing my “N” driving test, I was gifted a car from my grandparents. It wasn’t a new car, at the time it was 10 years old, but it was one I was very familiar with. The 2001 Toyota Corolla had lived on Vancouver Island with my grandparents for years and in it I’d been on island highways, White Rock streets and forest roads learning how to drive with the guidance of my Gram.
Upon receiving the car I knew its name immediately. Vera - the name of my Gram’s mom.
Over the last 7 years Vera and I have been on many great adventures together: countless trips into Vancouver, hours spent driving around Victoria and the surrounding areas, an epic road trip down the West Coast, treks to the Okanagan, flat tires, dead batteries, and lots and lots of gas station stops. Vera has been an incredibly important part of my life and one of the things I have been most grateful for for the past 7 years.
This past October she took on even more meaning to me when Gram passed away. Now, not only did driving Vera encourage me to appreciate all the adventures I’d been on with her, it also served as a reminder of my Gram and almost made me feel more connected to her. Driving down streets in White Rock where we’d driven together in my first days as a new driver filled me with memories and the fading Canada sticker she’d placed on the bumper reminded me of her passion and love for our country.
A few weeks ago, my other set of grandparents were forced to give up driving. Knowing that Vera was an older model and that I would appreciate some of the more modern features on their 2004 Toyota Corolla, they offered it to me. As much as the thought of saying goodbye to Vera destroyed me, I knew that accepting the new car was the smartest thing to do. A newer car with way lower mileage, fancier features (hello power windows!) and a longer life left in it would provide me with reliable transportation for way longer than what Vera would have. But saying goodbye was hard. There were a lot of tears.
In the days leading up to the goodbye I made sure to be very present when I was driving her. I paid attention to every built up collection of dust, every worn-in mark, and all of the quirks she had and stored them away in my mind. I also made sure that she’s going to a good home. Rather than sell the car and get a few hundred dollars, I decided to donate Vera to a family in need in the community. I know this something my Gram would have loved and it’s helped me feel better about saying goodbye.
It’s been just over a week with the new car and, aside from not starting on the day I got it, it’s been great! The power windows have been used a ton with all the nice weather we’ve been having, the beepy unlock thing has been a magical treat, and the little bit of extra power has been really fun on the highway. It doesn’t have a name yet but there are a few contenders.
I’d love to hear about YOUR first car! What kind was it? Did you name it? Do you remember every little detail about it? Or was it nothing special? Let me know down below!