It was a Sunday. Always a Sunday.
Our destination was the General Motors dealership in town, where Pop would park between the rows of cars, then walk around the lot with my dad, checking out the bells and whistles on the new models, while the girls stayed in the car.
Most times, I'd turn and peek over the bench seat at my sister, who now had the best spot. (That was the thing about the "best." You could never be too smug or too jealous because it was constantly changing.) We'd play tic-tac-toe, while my grandma updated my mom on the goings on of someone two towns over, someone she may or may not have known. I never did.
But occasionally I'd just watch, longing to run to them, to listen to them talk about engines, or whatever they wanted to talk about, so long as I could be there too.
When we reached the point we thought we couldn't live another minute stuck in the car, they'd return, Pop with a spring in his step, talking the whole way home about the latest Cadillac (although his real love was the Jaguar), and how he thought they should buy it. They really should. Grandma, ever practical, would just wave her hand and laugh. Or maybe that was her response to the Jag. At any rate, they always stuck with Buick.
Years later, after there were no more family trips to the dealership, I'd question my mom, "Why in the world would you agree to be trapped in a smoke-filled car for half an hour while they strolled around the lot?" She'd shrug and say, "Things were different then."
That is certainly true. I suspect though, that my mom understood what, for a long time, I did not. That for Pop, these outings were the one of the highlights of our visits. Time, alone with his son, surrounded by something they both loved.
There are times I look around at my life, and I see so clearly how all of these present moments are connected to the past. I see my son, with his innate love of cars, so genuine, so like my grandfather and father, that I'm taken back to those afternoons in the Buick.
My son, of course, knows nothing of his heritage. But yet. When they returned from a father and son oil change errand last Friday, my husband told me a story. A story that was new to him, but had lived in my memories for years. It seems that after dropping off the keys at the dealership's service desk, W took his father's hand and led him outside, where they walked through the lot, checking out each car, one by one, before circling back to the start.