KALIS: Goodbye, Old Bessy, thanks for the memories

In the year 2000, the same year my son was born, we purchased a brand new Ford Expedition. It had all-wheel drive for safety in the winter, and the capability to tow our pop-up camper and boat.
May 20, 2014


It was perfect for our active lifestyle — and, 14 years later, I was still driving it.

Sure, as the years went by, Old Bessy — as I came to call our Expedition — started to show her age and acquired lots of “character.” Like the front license plate frame that hung from a single corner. You couldn’t really notice that much, though, as the incredible amount of rust distracted your eyes away from it. 

The rear wiper was snapped off and there was a crack in the windshield. Paint was peeling off the hood, and the keyless entry only worked when it wanted to. Also, the child lock was stuck on the right rear passenger door, so the only way you could get out was to put the window down, reach out and grab the handle from the outside. 

Of course, over these years, it had its share of problems other than just cosmetic — there were issues with alternators, mufflers, radiators, power steering, exhaust systems and more. And yes, we were broken down and stranded more than once. 

In fact, we had frequented the repair shop so often that I thought they might bronze our key hook or etch our name into something like they do for loyal customers at bars and restaurants. 

This past winter had especially been rough. Things were rusting and falling off on a regular basis. 

One day, I tried to kick the built-up ice and slush off the front wheel well and the entire front end of the side runner came off with it. I thought it was OK though, since it evened things out — the rear part of the runner had fallen off a while back.

At any rate, in the month of March alone we had been to the shop three times. And with the growing puddle of radiator fluid in the garage, we knew a fourth trip was in store. We had hoped Old Bessy could pull our pop-up down to South Carolina for spring break one last time, but we came to the realization that she just wasn’t going to make it.

She had finally reached the end of her road. It was time to turn her in.

I knew this day would come — but when we got to the dealership, something strange happened. I was suddenly hit by a wave of emotions. As I peeled my kids’ sports stickers off the rear window, I even had to wipe away a tear! 

Feeling silly, I quickly tried to pull myself together before anyone could see me. But, as we drove home in our new car, I was overwhelmed by emotion once again. 

My husband said, “Are you seriously crying over a car?” And that’s when I realized that, no, I wasn’t. It wasn’t about the car; it was about the memories. 

Our old Expedition wasn’t just full of rust, it was full of sand and dog hair and days gone by. It had gone from infant seat to car seat to booster seat to “I call the front seat.” From Sippy cups and spilled Cheerios, to Gatorade bottles and power-bar crumbs. It had hauled beach chairs and boogie boards and sand toys; coolers and camping stuff; soccer gear and hockey equipment; bikes and thousands of Meijer shopping bags. It had taken us camping and on vacations, got our boat to the launch and our kids to practices and games. 

Fourteen years flashed before me and hit me like a ton of bricks — until finally I realized that, yes, I was leaving behind the car, but not the memories. Those I could thankfully take with me.

With that in mind, as soon as we got home, I transferred my kids’ sports stickers to the new car’s window and I instantly felt better just thinking about the memories this car would soon hold. 

So, goodbye, Old Bessy. You served us well. Thanks for all of the adventures.

And now, let the new adventures begin!

— By Kelly Kalis, Tribune community columnist



Reminds me of the Beach Boys song "Betsy".


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