Monday, July 9, 2018

My mom, a cargo van, and the next chapter.

This entry is the second after a  more than year long hiatus. An elaboration of a very brief explanation given in the previous post seems in order prior to continuing hopefully more regular postings. I'm not much on making my private life public, thus this blog has been mostly about my hobbies. The why and the wherefores of what will follow in subsequent posts need the context of the passing away of my mom last year. Like I would imagine is the case for most of us, it was a sea-change event. Anyone who knows me well knows that I was a world class mother's boy. Many of my actions and decisions come by my love of my mom and desire that she stay with me and live on in some way by what I do going to do going forward.
Mom worked her whole life in the Los Angeles Garment District. She worked her way up from piece work to pattern maker- made the prototype from the initial pattern prior to mass production.  In forty some years, she only had three employers. This was despite having to deal with an asthmatic kid  (me) early in her working life- in the era before albuterol and steroid inhalers- who required frequent absences from work.  Aside from the work, what was left behind from that part of her life were her two industrial sewing machines. Toward the last four years of her life, she could no longer use them. None the less, she would not part with the two machines. Despite all practical considerations, they moved with her in her small assisted living room and stayed with her until the end.
Another sad rite of passage is what to do with what is left behind. Newspaper articles, even books are written regarding dostadning. We had already done some of this five years ago when she made the transition from living in her own home to assisted living. All of her belongings were either donated or disposed except a recliner (think Frasier's dad's chair) which sits in my sister's living room and the machines as they were as much a part of her as any material object could be.
We had room for the machines at our home. Further, DW was a pretty accomplished seamstress before she gave that up due to work and family demands on her time. How to get the sewing machines to from LA to Salem was the next step. Family friends kindly offered to store them for a limited time until I could return for them. There were several options involving rental trucks but none were cost or time effective. This brings us to how I came to owning a Metris as that is how they machine found a new home.

A Mercedes Benz had been predicted for me by one of my colleagues at the  LA County Assessor's Office when I left there for medical school. However, John M. foresaw my wife driving it while  I continued to drive the old beaters I was known for. In LA, at least at that time, you were what you drove. One of my supervisors had taken me aside and kind of in jest remarked that I made enough money to get a presentable car as what I was driving was a disgrace to the office.
My Saab had done pretty well as a utility vehicle.
But there was no room for a 4x8 sheet of drywall or plywood. That requirement was a running private joke between DW and I when at car shows over the years. I had ideated on a Ford Transit Connect in the past couple of years although alas it did not have the capacity for 4x8 sheet goods. The price and size otherwise were right, however.
Low mileage Transit Connects were nowhere to be found in several weeks of looking. The local dealers were completely disinclined to negotiate on price- one guy could barely suppress a yawn when presenting his offer. Other small cargo vans were considered "gutless wonders" by their users or not very reliable by consumer ratings. Also, DW was not all that enthused about driving underpowered, high point of gravity, poorly handling and questionable quality vehicles which was her impression of the options I had thus far looked at.
Thus I started looking at Metrises and found a local dealer who was open to negotiating on a low mileage 2016 model. DW wanted rear door windows for visibility. As I could purchase a low miles Metris for the price the dealers wanted for a base level new Transit Connect, it was purchased and we went to L.A. where it came in handy for a number of tasks associated with my mom's memorial service.
I would not have bought a cargo van for that purpose only. When our car acquisition would come up in conversation DW would refer to it as Sal's two seater midlife crisis Mercedes. In a way it an accurate assessment it's role in my life's next chapter will become apparent in subsequent posts.
This project's first stage was posted on Lumberjocks a wood working site.
Soundproofing the interior was not a want but a need as the interior noise qualified as a low level health hazard by OSHA standards. Paying for the paneling and soundproofing is what most owners do. But that would have been boring and expensive. Thus, I made the side panels, ceiling and wheel well covers. 
As they say, when you're a hammer the world looks like a nail.

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