Notes from Jan

A Piece of History: Jud and his Volvo

October 1, 2015


Today’s Jud’s birthday.  Would’ve been his 75th, the day he’d  become my age!  I tried it out in June.  So far, so good. Last night, I sold his old Volvo.  Not easy to let it go but easier when sold to Marshall, a family friend.  Can’t recall if it ever spent a night in a garage.  Jud wasn’t one to pamper himself or his cars. I’m sure Jud’s not missing the Volvo but I’m feeling like a piece of our history went with the car.

Jud liked that car. The college bought it used and Jud drove it for a number of years while he was President of Gordon. His other car was an old blue truck.  When the truck needed more than it was worth, he let it go and put a trailer hitch on the Volvo to haul his boat.  Strange sight going down route 128.  Usually you’d see pick-up trucks pulling boats, not an old gray Volvo sedan with a sunroof.  But that’s part of what I miss about Jud.  He didn’t care how something looked as much as how well it functioned and that Volvo could haul more than its worth.

Summers it hauled grandchildren to Good Harbor beach.  Plenty of room for buckets, blankets, beach chairs, boogie boards and people.  He never fussed about sand, saltwater or sticky fingers. “We can clean it later.”  Much later.

So today I miss an old car and an older man who along the way made me feel worth more than I felt at times and though I must’ve tempted him,  never traded me in for a newer model with less upkeep and fewer miles.   We aged well together until he took off for heaven.

After hugging his pillow this morning, kissing his picture I thought,”wonder how they celebrate birthdays in heaven?”  Do you get to see a movie of how you were formed in your mother’s womb? Like it says in Psalm 139:13″ For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” I wonder if God shows you a baby book beyond imagination with snapshots of your life, glimpses of ways God protected and guided, ways you made God, saints and angels cheer as you made wise choices, did those small acts of holiness, unheralded by any but the only One who really mattered. Do you get to scroll down and view the truth written in Psalm 139:16 “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be”?

Well, for sure Jud’s not thinking about what used to be.  He never was one to dwell on what was or might have been.  I do.  Right now I’m wishing I’d done a better job of keeping up with Heather and Chad’s baby books.  I never really got into Creative Memories.  When they each turned 21, I gave them my best efforts.  There are a few gaps. They did have all their vaccines.

So I guess I’m hoping God’s got those baby books. I can see Jud shaking his head, rolling his eyes at my theological creativity. Well, my response was usually something like, “who gave me this imagination?!”

Well, dearest love, I do wish you a happy birthday.  I’m thankful you were born and for each moment (well, not EVERY moment) we spent together.  Thank you  for many ways you taught by how you lived that real life’s never about the stuff.

Bye bye, Volvo.








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  • Reply Nancy October 1, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    Happy birthday, Jud. And happy new owner, Volvo. Pressing on. Leaning into the tape. Jan, you are running a good race. Prayers go with you.

  • Reply Wendy Lane October 2, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    I’m blessed to have a man who “makes me feel worth more than I felt at times ” too. I think Steve is a lot like Jud. I can’t help but wonder what in the world I’m going to do if God takes Steve before He takes me, every time I read your remembrances of Jud. Its good. It makes me try and embrace and appreciate and deeply inhale every bit of time we have together now, even when I don’t really “feel like it”. 🙂 You’re teaching me so much Jan. Thank you. I love you. Happy Birthday dear Jud.

    And – I love your imaginations about how birthdays are celebrated in heaven!! Haha – I will never think of my loved ones who have passed away the same on their birthdays 🙂

  • Reply Meg Herman October 6, 2015 at 11:48 pm

    Jan, this very morning at 6:30 am, a large flat bed truck backed up our driveway to haul away my daughter’s car that had been totaled in an accident this past summer. Her ’97 white Buick LeSabre, aka ” the White Whale” had safely carried her across the country three times and back, plus driven her up and down the east coast and through the south and midwest countless times. Many people on the street had offered to buy it from her on the spot, saying ” they just don’t make ’em like this anymore” and she graciously declined their offers, because this car had been a generous hand-me-down from Peter’s grandpa, and still had some of his golf balls jammed in the corners of it’s spacious trunk . It may not have been great on gas, but it was built like a tank so when a speeding motorcycle broadsided the car, Sarah’s three very elderly passengers felt barely a shudder as the car selflessly took the impact of the crash. (The motorcyclist injured his leg, and considering how fast he was going, he was very fortunate). The car damage was significant enough that at such advanced years, and declining value, the car was considered by the insurance company to be totaled. Sarah had driven it up from NYC and left it with us, and as the junker came unannounced at such a ungodly hour as to awaken me with the grinding of gears, back-up beeping, and clanking of chains, I rose from my bed and watched from the window feeling inexplicably sad. Bruce stood in the driveway in his pajamas, taking video to send to Sarah in NYC, that the White Whale was now on its final journey. Sarah posted on FB that her car was now gone. Many of her friends lamented its loss, commenting on the memorable trips they had taken in it with her, or the times they had borrowed it. Grandpa’s car had done what it had been charged to do, to care for Peter and Sarah, even to give up its life if asked in order to protect them. Which it did.
    Their new “Beige Brohahmptus” is a even larger car, a Crown Victoria lovingly handed down from Peter’s father to these “poor-as-churchmice kids”, who accepted it gratefully, even though they have considerable difficulty now finding parking for such a behemoth on the streets of NYC. She and I joked this past weekend that it looked like a “gangster car” and could fit four bodies in the trunk. It may be bad-on-gas and built like a tank, but it has the same charge to care for these kids and always bring them home safely.
    The dust, sticky fingerprints, beach sand, golf balls, and spilled coffee make our vehicles extensions of our home, our lives, harboring these physical evidences to remind us of our many hours spent living in the car- long trips, days at the beach, jaunts to the supermarket. No wonder we feel such an odd tenderness for them, they have carried us without a complaint and brought us safely home no matter what the weather like a faithful friend. I know it was very hard for you to let Jud’s car go. Marshall probably feels honored to have his car, ready to add his own sand, fingerprints and spilled coffee to its ongoing history. And being a Volvo, it will take excellent care of its new owner.

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