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Reincarnated Rust

I am still very much alive, so you’ll take this next sentence with a grain of salt, it’s mostly hearsay. The best thing about dying is that you don’t have to worry about your stuff anymore. It doesn’t matter if you’re headed up to heaven or down to hell, or just winking out like a taillight with a short in the wiring harness. You can’t take it with you when you leave the game, no matter how much you try.

Where you’re going, you won’t need to worry if anyone dusted your prized silver spoon collection, or if your neighbor returned that Dave Brubeck album he borrowed last month. You’ll suffer the same fate Bilbo Baggins did, relatives will show up to paw through your treasures, carting off your carefully curated collection.

Don’t get me wrong, some folks have spent an awful lot of time and energy trying to take it with them. Egyptian pharaohs built themselves monumental graves and directed their followers to fill them chock full of stuff they thought they might need in the afterlife. Nobody builds a pyramid these days, people tell me cremation is much more common now.

Even without a pyramid, most folks still leave little monuments to their existence when they pass on to the great beyond.

This week I got a call from Chuck, a friend of friend. He’d heard I had a Ford Falcon project car. Chuck’s dad was a lifelong Ford guy, and like most of us, he had a few projects still in the works when he passed away. The cars had been sitting outside for a long time, but Chuck said there still might be few things worth saving.

There were three Ford Rancheros, Ford’s mostly forgotten El Camino competitor. One, a ‘67 was still sitting on the trailer Chuck’s dad used to haul it home from Arizona in the mid-90s. The car never left the trailer, even as the wood decking rotted away over the years. Chuck always assumed it part of his dad’s master plan to keep anyone else from using the trailer.

“I guess Dad figured we’d never ask him to borrow his trailer if it already had a car sitting on it,” Chuck said, laughing.

The other two Rancheros were sitting in the grass of the backyard, slowly returning to the earth. Over time both cars had sunk into the yard so deeply their rocker panels were even with the ground.

A couple of sheds and outbuildings were crammed full of early Ford parts, neatly stacked and organized. Chuck isn’t much of a car guy, he’d asked me to come by and help him sort through everything to see if there’s anything worth saving. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much left to save at this point. Chuck’s dad had saved everything he thought he’d need, but he died before he ever got a chance to use it. I loaded a couple of parts I thought I’d be able to use into the back of my truck as Chuck looked wistfully at the house, surrounded by the abandoned cars. A scrap metal recycler is coming next week to haul off most of the big items.

I couldn’t stop thinking about Chuck’s dad on my way home that night. You spend all your life collecting this stuff, even though you can’t take it with you. I hung one of the fenders I’d taken with me on my Falcon that night, and sat down in my garage chair to admire the view, cracking open a Coors to get the moment right.

No matter how different our journeys in life are, the destination is always the same. The Rancheros might never run again, but at least some small part of them would live again on another car. Maybe that’s as close to reincarnation as we get.

Contact David Dolmage

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