Changes

My father once bought a new truck that was so stripped down of options that it not only did not have a headliner, it didn’t have a passenger seat or a visor on the right hand side of the windshield. In the mid-1960’s when all cars began to have radios as standard equipment he complained that they were driving up the price of vehicles by including unnecessary equipment. In 1969 he bought his first and only vehicle with an automatic transmission, a bit saddened that they didn’t offer a “three on the tree” in that particular car any more. He was not a miser. He was a generous man who donated widely and who supported those in need in many different ways. He wasn’t opposed to spending money. He invested wisely in his businesses and he used credit wisely. He was successful as a business man and happy as a father and community leader. He just didn’t like the sensation of not being in control of purchase decisions. He didn’t listen to the radio when driving a car and he didn’t see the need of having a radio in a car.

I thought of him and his ways yesterday as I drove our 9-year-old car to the grocery store for our weekly shopping trip. For several years my daily driver had been a much older model. I drove that car to the age of 21 years and over 292,000 miles. It was a good, reliable car. This newer car that we now have is similar and has many of the same features, but it also has heated seats. Yesterday was a rainy day and it was chilly outside and there was something quite nice about having a warm place to sit as I drove. I don’t know if heated seats are standard in this particular car, but they did come with that trim level that year. The list of features that might have given my father rise is long. To start with, the car has all wheel drive. Although my father always had a Jeep around and he was, for a brief time, a Jeep dealer, he thought of 4-wheel-drive as a feature of a specialty vehicle. He had no use for an all-wheel drive car and never owned a 4-wheel-drive pickup. For many years all of our vehicles have had all-wheel-drive. Then there are the electric windows. I know he would have gone on about the lack of need for a motor to make the windows go up and down. There is nothing wrong with a hand crank. Our car has a bluetooth stereo with a hands-free telephone function. My father never had a cell phone and never felt the need for one. A car stereo that links to the phone for on the road calls would have seemed like a totally unnecessary feature. The list goes on and on: ABS brakes, computerized engine controls, LED lights, reclining seats in the front and the back, and, of course those heated seats. There are cars sold today on which the list of options is more expensive than my father ever spent on an entire vehicle.

My father’s thoughts and feelings aside, however, there is something quite nice about interval windshield wipers and heated seats on a chilly, rainy day. And we are new enough in our home that it hasn’t escaped me that the forecast for today is for a high of 45 degrees and rain, while back in Rapid City the high is projected to be 63 degrees under sunny skies. We may have found a place where we will not need our snowblower, but I’m starting to think about the possibility of mowing the lawn in the rain if we don’t get a break pretty soon. (Yes, I know I wouldn’t have to mow my lawn in November back in Rapid City.) Yesterday I was quite surprised to see the neighbor’s lawn service drive up and use leaf blowers to pick up the lawn in the rain. I didn’t think leaves would blow very easily in the rain, but they got the job done.

Now that I’ve reached an age that is several years older than my father ever saw, I have more understanding of his resistance to some of the changes in the world. It used to bother me that he so eschewed luxury when he could easily have afforded it. I thought he deserved a little comfort from time to time. But I know that the newest or latest thing didn’t bring him much joy.

There are some features to life in these times that I think he would have enjoyed. I routinely get over 50,000 miles out of a set of tires. He used to be glad to get 15,000 miles before needing to replace tires. We drove our last car for 21 years and never needed to replace the muffler. He was happy if he got a second year out of a muffler. I can’t remember when I last had trouble starting a vehicle. He struggled with getting vehicles started every winter of his life.

Change is sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. But change is inevitable. As much as we complain about the changes in our lives, there is no way to avoid change. And things don’t always go the way we had planned. There is much in this life over which we have no control. The good health I have enjoyed is not a matter of merit. I have been fortunate. It isn’t just my health. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful marriage, happy and healthy children and grandchildren. I’ve had a career that was meaningful and work that I enjoyed for all of my adult life. Life has been very good to me.

I’ll make the adjustments to this new place of living. I’ll learn to watch the weather and choose the time of day for my walk. I’ll invest in some better rain gear. And I’ll enjoy the heated car seats.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!