Posted by: Dennie | October 11, 2013

Poppy

Two years ago this weekend,  I traded my 2004 Honda Civic sedan for a new car. I remember the date because I picked it up on Columbus Day.

And on Valentine’s Day night of 2004, I drove off the lot of the Honda dealership with the Civic as my brand new car.

Two new cars. Two holidays. A useless little piece of  information for you.

This isn’t a photo of my car. I can’t find one picture of it in my computer. That makes me sad. It also made me sad to realize, after I’d driven  the new car for a week or two, that I actually missed the Civic. I missed the great gas mileage. I missed the familiarity. And I missed the memories. That little car and I had seven years and seventy-five thousand miles of memories. It was brand new when we took it to North Carolina.  We drove the northeast for college searches. The Civic and I drove to Indiana to help my daughter apartment hunt after her job transfer. My son learned how to drive a manual transmission, and my daughter attempted to learn on that car. Lots of years, lots of miles, lots of memories.

But buying a new car is exciting.  In a way, it’s like buying a new house, but on a smaller scale.  For me, I have always had to “move” into a new–or new-to-me, car.

I collect different little trinkets and add-ons to make my car my own and give it personality. When the kids were in college, I had each of their school names on the back window but those went out with the Civic. I have medallions-an angel, and the word,”peace”, affixed to the dashboard with double-sided tape. A car freshener. A ribbon from a special birthday gift that my husband gave me two years ago. A bell that hung on the Harley I once had. And a variety of other little things that make my car mine.

Including the poppy.

The VFW and American Legion use red crepe-paper poppies to raise money for veterans in need. The flower became associated with veterans and remembrance through the poem, “In Flanders Fields,” by Col. John McCrae, a Canadian officer.  Generally around  Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day, you’ll see older vets, enduring and dignified, posted at little tables outside grocery stores and other public places, with their boxes of poppies. Make a donation, get a poppy.  I always  do.

I donate today to help the veterans, but years ago, when I got my very first car and donated for my very first poppy, the reason had nothing to do with war, or veterans, or their disabilities. It had everything to do with my dad.

As a little girl, I loved to ride with my father in his pick-up truck. I was always willing to go with him, no matter where it was;  the hardware store to get a box of finishing nails, the paint store for the extra gallon of eggshell, or into the woods to haul out rocks for the endless succession of stone walls which he built on his half-acre of heaven.  I was happy being with him, bumping along  in his old green Jimmy. My little butt would bounce up off the tan Naugahyde bench seat and the top of my head  was barely high enough to see over the dashboard.

Unlike my vehicles today,  my dad had only two items he moved from pick-up to pick-up. Both secured to his visor; a St. Christopher medal given to him by my great-grandfather, and a poppy.

My dad served in the army for three years at  Fort Hood, Texas, the place  of my birth. It’s my guess that his German heritage, combined with those three years, imprinted on him the importance of punctuality and an obsession with neatness; from the shine on his shoes to the organization of his workbench and the lack of clutter in his vehicles.

While he was not a military man,  per se,  he was fiercely patriotic and loyal to his country.  I suppose the poppy on the visor was a quiet symbol of those feelings.

I bought my first poppy on Veteran’s Day in 1976, for my first car, coincidentally, a Honda Civic, and placed it on the visor over my head.  A poppy has been on the visor of every car I’ve owned since then.  It pays quiet homage to those who gave their lives for this wonderful country. And, in my own special way, to the memories of a little girl who loved to ride in the truck with her dad.

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