I had a strange "visitor" from the past yesterday. As I was standing in front of the clinics at UCSF waiting for my car to come up from the parking lot,* I noticed a familiar car sitting at the curb. It looked like our old van. I walked toward it and saw that the license plate was different, but I was pretty sure it was the same car.The distinctive gold color, the Giants sticker on the back, the remains of some other sticker on the passenger side mirror and, of course the bulky wheel chair lift visible through the darkened windows. I snuck this picture while I waited.
I could not tell if the body of the van was modified or not. Mine was not and that's why we had to sell it. Because the floor of the van was not lowered to accommodate Maggie in her chair she became too tall to ride in it. Her head was practically touching the ceiling when we got rid of it three years ago. It worked fine when we originally put the lift in because Maggie was so little, but once she started to grow it became problematic. Still, that van was part of our life for 12 years. We purchased it the day Tim finished Kindergarten and donated it a month after he graduated from high school. That's a long time and it holds a lot of memories.
There was a man sitting in the van but he looked harried (as many people do waiting in front of UCSF) and I thought approaching him would just be too weird. But I couldn't just let it go. The valet parking guy talked to the driver and he got out of his car to respond. I figured this was my chance. Just as he was getting back in I said, "Excuse me sir. I think this is my old car." His eyes flashed with anger and he said in a very thick accent, 'NO, this is MY car." I put my hands up and said "NO NO NO, I understand it is your car now, but I believe this is the car I used to own." Now he was interested. He said he bought it for his daughter who uses a wheelchair.
Makes sense to me.
To confirm, I asked whether or not the floor was lowered. Initially he did not understand the question but then he looked sad and said, "No, and now my daughter is getting too tall and her head is touching the ceiling." I told him that was exactly why we had to get another one. He said, "You have another one? Is it for sale." No, sorry. We use it every single day. My van arrived just then and I waved goodbye to the nice man and another goodbye to my old car, pleasantly surprised at the memories this stirred up.
It seems totally random that three years later I should see my old car, but I suppose it makes sense. Pretty much anyone who bought that car would have to have a disabled child because an adult would be too big for the configuration of the car. And anyone with a child in a wheelchair in San Francisco will be at UCSF at some point. Whether it was random or a mathematical probability, it was still quite a sweet little moment.
If we were younger and drank lattes instead of ferrying around our disabled daughters, we could have been in this commercial. Just so you know, I would be the thin young woman with the fancy car.
*There have been many medical and scientific breakthroughs, but valet parking at no additional cost is the single greatest achievement at UCSF in the 17 years I have been taking Maggie there.