Peggy's children were grown and she didn't have a pet, but she loved Sally. She provided for her well, giving her good shelter, spending a lot of money taking care of her other needs and keeping her clean and neat. She also showered her with attention; they went everywhere together. One Valentine's Day, Peggy put a huge red bow on Sally, but Sally didn't care. In fact, she didn't even know the bow was there. Despite her limitations, Sally was Peggy's pride and joy.
Talk about true love--one day Peggy told me, "My dad had her a long time and he took excellent care of her. When I inherited her from him, I made a promise to do the same, no matter what. We fit together; we're a match." She sighed. "I know she's getting older now and can't move as fast as she once could, but I still love her."
I scratched my head. Peggy was less than realistic. Sally had more problems than moving fast. She was slow starting in the morning, then she'd sputter around before getting into gear. Even when she got going, nothing went smoothly. Sometimes, at the worst possible times, she'd come to a complete standstill.
Nonetheless, at Peggy's insistence, the three of us often went places together. I really didn't like to be involved with her. But, despite my reservations, I couldn't tell my friend that; she'd be too offended. I couldn't even tell Peggy, who had physical problems, that Sally took more care than she could feasibly provide. At twenty years old, it was time for Sally to go somewhere else. But I didn't express my opinion. Saying those things was useless. I knew Peggy wouldn't have listened to me.
However, one day, after Peggy told me, "My friend's son is interested in Sally," I spotted my chance to speak up and took the leap.
"You can't do anymore with her, Peggy," I insisted. "Why don't you give Hal a chance? Maybe he can fix her up." I thought this might be Peggy's opportunity to break the bond.
She dismissed the idea then. But, to my surprise, after a lot of deliberation and indecision, Peggy did let Hal take Sally. At first, he took good care of her. But that was short-lived. Before two months were up, he had a wreck. Knowing how Peggy would react if she saw Sally all bent in on one side, barely able to move, Hal's mother called her.
"I'm sorry, Peggy," she began. "I hate to give you bad news, but there's been an accident and Sally was hurt. Hal did what he could to steer her out of harm's way," she said, "but a truck ran a red light and then plowed right into them and, well,"--she stammered--"Sally got the brunt of the damage. I had to let you know. I didn't want you to come over here and see what happened and be shocked."
With eyes downcast, Peggy shook her head as she told me, "I boo-hoo'd. My baby was hurt bad. I haven't been over to their house yet. I just can't bear to see her like that."
Lines crossed my brow. "She's just..." I began.
When Peggy blinked and her shoulders stiffened, I decided my next words would hit a nerve, so I chewed on my lip, cutting off my statement. Then I asked a question. "Doesn't Hal have insurance?"
Wringing her hands, Peggy nodded. "Yes, he does. But if he makes a claim..."
She couldn't finish the sentence. So, I did. "They'll cancel his insurance."
"Worse than that." Peggy pressed her hands tightly against her cheeks. "They'll consider her a total loss." Sobbing, she added, "And my poor baby, my beautiful 1994 Buick Park Avenue, will end up in some old car junk yard." She shivered. "Oh, my! They may even put her in one of those horrible car crushers and crush her into a tiny cube. That's barbaric! If I could, I'd rather have her cremated."
I went over and put my arm around her, wondering what words would provide appropriate sympathy for a car. I was also beginning to wonder if I'd personified this car like Peggy had. Was this getting to me, too? I was stumped, but it turned out that I didn't have to say anything.
Taking a deep breath, Peggy looked up at me and cocked her head. "I, I sure hope," she sniffled, "I hope there's a car heaven."
All I had to do was nod and be gratified at the consolation in my friend's eyes.