When I moved to Alabama some 15 years ago, I had no idea what I would be faced with. When hubby and I left Colorado, we thought our stay would only be about two or three years at most.
Daddy’s wife had passed away and he was showing signs of melancholy. We thought we’d go for a time to cheer him up. Mother was not that far away, only about two hours north in Nashville. Even though I was born in Alabama, I’d really never live there for any length of time. Hubby worked from home and we’d visited Dad several years before and he liked it there, so we thought, why not?
Well, we were there nine years.
Daddy seemed to be doing fine, but the following summer, mother’s husband had died at her feet while watching TV. She had Alzheimer’s and could not be alone. So, we brought her down with us and for a short time, she came to live with us and Daddy again after some nearly 50 years. That did not work. So we put her in a very nice assisted living facility in Birmingham for awhile, until other arrangements could be made. I was busy, working, prepping her house to sell, getting formal custody of her, trying to get VA benefits and a whole mess of other things. Half the time, mother didn’t know who I was and when she did, it was either curses and sit down strikes.
Eventually, my sweet sister who recently passed away, came up from Florida to help me and we were able to bring mother home. We bought a two story house, really neat, that was perfect. Downstairs was outfitted with safety features for mother, locks for escape prevention and danger. No stove knobs, locks on fridge and all kinds of gizmo’s that we had social services approve of before she could be allowed to leave the facility. My sister lived in the upstairs apartment and had daytime duty. I worked and took night time duty. Hubby stayed at our regular home, one we had bought before all hell broke loose, at least until we sold that.
Daddy, in the meantime, didn’t live from that home and we learn his cancer came back. He didn’t let us know right away though. It was rough.
Dealing with VA, courts, and well, everything imaginable such as mother hiding things in the toilet and stopping up drains, calling out the plumbers, pacing nonstop, screaming abuses, telling hubby, to “watch out for her, she’s a slut!” was painful. I was on an emotional roller coaster and no matter how many people told me it was the dementia, it didn’t help. For one, she was like that before. Once when my brother was visiting, we left Daddy in charge while we went to Trade Day. She decided to get stark naked and lure him to bed. We found him standing at the back door facing away from the house. It was kinda funny actually – seeing daddy like that, I mean. In the meantime, she had no clue and had forgotten what she’d been about and was now trying to figure out the shower when I found her. Like I said, no knobs, so she couldn’t accidentally hurt herself. So that was my life. Each day was an adventure and one never knew what another day would bring.
As I mentioned, I worked. I had a long, but pleasant drive, 38 miles each way. Each day, depending on how things were going at home, I would scream, cry, sing Amazing Grace along with Il Divo or pray all the way to work. God and I had some mighty fine chats and rants. He didn’t care if I cursed at Him for the burden I was shouldering, He took it rather well. By the time I arrived to work, I’d be at peace.
On my way to work each day, I was fortunate enough to be traveling through small towns and farmland. At least my travels were beautiful and peaceful. I’d often pass a few cars going in the opposite direction. One blessing sent my way was the Cadillac. That’s when I noticed the Cadillac man. Each day, he’d wave as I passed. At first, it was nothing more than the common farmer one finger wave, later it would become the half hand over the steering wheel wave and once when one of us had either been away a few days or something, it would be a full on wave, like “happy to see you again”. Sometimes, he had an older woman with him and at other times a small child. Mostly, he was alone and each day we got to looking forward to seeing each other.
I remember telling my sister about him and we would make up stories about who he was, what he did and where he was going each day. I even wrote a short story about how he showed up suddenly at the open house of our little coffee shop/bookstore/tea house, that she and I had always dreamed of having. He was either a doctor, lawyer, an architect or some such. It was always comforting knowing he would pass me by each day just before it was time to come into the clinic I worked at. I think God put him there just for that. After I got transferred closer to home, I saw him only now and again, as his route went through the town I lived in, but he didn’t know me outside of my little red car, so he never waved. I did get a closer look and he was an older gentleman and I wondered if he missed that little red car that used to pass him by each day.
Now I have a Tesla man, only I’m not sad or depressed, but… he is still inspiring. My Tesla man is a young man, who waves each day as I pass by on my walks.
I need him right now. A couple of months ago I determined to be in the best shape ever for my 75th birthday, so I committed myself to walking, since gyms were closed. Each year, I give myself a new challenge. Last year I jumped out of an airplane. This year, I will do hang gliding and by my next birthday the video. Unfortunately, I tend to lose interest in any regular exercise routine and as luck would have it, my knee gave out and the pain has been at times debilitating. Good excuse to quit, right?
No! Not good. Not good on two counts. One, I could be crippled and two, my project would be impossible to achieve. As it is, the elaborate moves I had in mind have to be modified. My goal when I started out was to trim down, so I could do an energetic dance video, beginning with showing the process from out of shape to in shape and then the routine. If my legs don’t work, there’s no video. Getting out each day at Odark hundred was going to be challenging enough. This could have been the end of that dream, except for the fact, that my Tesla man, whether he knows it or not, keeps cheering me on. His waves, not unlike the Cadillac man’s are my hope and inspiration to keep at it. I know that at 7:30 am each morning, just like the Cadillac man, he will pass, smile and wave. I just can’t let him down. Like the Cadillac man, we will probably never meet, but it doesn’t matter. It’s my catalyst, my impetus and hope, giving me the determination to keep at it.
Maybe I’m his too. You know, I was thinking, and perhaps it’s worth pondering over, but none of us knows how a small gesture like that can inspire or comfort someone we don’t know or may never meet. Think about that.
I’m sure these two guys have no clue.
For all I know, the Cadillac man had a failing wife or aging parent he had to take into the city for treatments too.
Maybe the young Tesla man, has a frustrating, high pressure job and wishes he could be out walking too. My smile, my wave, who knows? They may help him start his day as well.
One never knows do they?
6 thoughts on “The Cadillac and Tesla Men”
Love the story, but I can’t wait to move back North after 5 years living in the south!
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My husband, who’s a New Yorker, loved it there. For one, we were close to family (my family, but a good drive and we could be to New York near his family. Getting used to the mugginess was hardest, but the people were very nice, at least those we knew and met.
Waving is wonderful! I loved this post. You never know what effect you might have on others.
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Isn’t that so true? I love a good wave and a smile goes a long way, doesn’t it?
Southern style, we wave at all the cars that pass us when we walk. It makes us feel good and might give a slight lift to those who have back.
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Beautifully engaging. Though painful to imagine the roller coaster of the experience
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