Farewell, Vaneschewitz the Minivan

My Dear Vaneschewitz,

March 2011

I’m writing to thank you, with all my heart, for seven years of faithful service, and to say goodbye. You brought our youngest son home from the hospital. You endured the unglamorous rigors of carpool duty, from one-year-old preschool to third grade and then some. You helped me say goodbye to our elderly cat and to bring home Zelda and Zora the Wonderpups to join the family.

As a family, we took vacations to Callaway Gardens and the beach and the ballpark and Cincinnati and Washington DC. You and I rode together to the hospital late at night with the windows down when the baby had the croup and couldn’t breathe and I was more panicked than I’d ever been. You kept me on the road. You let me sit in your seat and cry when my Dad died and I had postpartum depression and I just needed to pound on the steering wheel and play Janis Joplin SO VERY LOUD.

You were never quite beautiful, but always a welcome sight (we have that in common, I think), especially to a family loaded down with groceries, exhausted from a day at Disney World, dirty from baseball practice or sweaty from gymnastics or Jazzercise. Hiding out from gale force winds at a rain-drenched campsite. Your seats and carpets were stained with everything from applesauce to coffee to blueberry smoothies and more coffee.

You and I logged hundreds of miles together on “nap drives,” in which I sometimes felt we were locked into some weird alternate existence together, away from the world: both of us giving up more sensible or utilitarian activities for the common goal of keeping the road noise coming and the toddler(s) mercifully snoozing. Those days, I came to rely on you as a friend in the way only a parent of young children can understand.

You were with me in the fancy neighborhood when Skywalker fell asleep with a McDonald’s hamburger in his mouth and I had to pull over to scoop it out and keep him from choking. We both heard the Frozen soundtrack so many times that I suspect if someone reconnects your old battery one day, that will be the first thing that comes out of your broken speakers. (Actually, it will probably be the Billy Jonas CD that is still in the player, the one the kids have asked for almost daily for the last nine months, the one we couldn’t get back after the accident. Don’t worry, I’m ordering a new copy.)

You weren’t an SUV, but no one told you that. You took the camping trips and mountain roads in stride, same for the 1.5-hour commute to Buckhead, where you’d stand among the flashier, less “maternal” cars in the corporate parking deck just like you owned the place. You never let them make you feel less than you were. You never shied away from the soccer mom image, the Star Wars family decals, the school/sports/chess magnets on the bumper I always SWORE I would never put on ANY car of mine. [Pause for laughter from veteran parents.] You and I learned about motherhood–and about putting others first–together.

You weren’t exactly unique–more than once I wandered up to the wrong slate-gray Toyota Sienna in some suburban parking lot–but you were ours, and we loved you. And the blog entry that named you is still one of the most popular posts I’ve ever written. (You inspired others, too – like this one and this one.)

May 2018

Now, we say goodbye. Thank you for 119,000+ miles of great and mundane and sad and happy and occasionally terrifying. Thank you for crumpling in all the right places when the bigger van slammed into us at the red light, for keeping me from being seriously injured.

I know it’s stupid to think so, but after all those years of nap drives and family errands and singing along to kids’ music, I’d like to think you’re as glad as I am that the boys weren’t with us when it happened. You would have protected them if they had been, I know. But from one maternal type to another, I’m glad it was just the two of us this time around.

My friend Rob, who suggested the name we gave you, is a car guy. He texted me this when he learned you were totaled: “A moment of silence for Vaneschewitz. She was a good ship….sturdy….” And he’s right. But to our little family, you were so much more than that. You were a constant at the center of our family life. Taken for granted, almost invisible, and loved all the more dearly because you never minded.

Farewell, my friend. Here’s hoping Minivan Heaven is the kind of place where they keep your tires at the right pressure, there’s no dog hair stuck in your carpet or crusty french fries wedged between your seats, and where that expensive synthetic oil you like flows in rivers…

You were a good ship. Sturdy. Boring. Beloved.


The Pullen-Turetsky Family


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MJ Pullen

M.J. Pullen is a distracted writer and the mom of two boys in Roswell, Georgia, where she is absolutely late for something important right now. Her books include quirky romantic comedies and playful women's fiction. She blogs erratically with writing advice, random observations, and reflections on raising very loud kids and dogs. Join her Distracted Readers newsletter list for updates, free content, giveaways and more.

8 thoughts on “Farewell, Vaneschewitz the Minivan”

  1. NanNan

    Rest In Peace, Vaneschewitz. M.J., I’m so glad you are safe!

  2. DebbieDebbie

    You are so incredibly talented, not to mention touchingly sentimental. You just got one thing wrong… you are a welcome site and quite beautiful (inside and out). I love your writing and your gifted soul.

  3. Dianne CartetDianne Cartet

    Your heartfelt—and revealing—commentary makes me feel like a Peeping Tom now because I have seen so many private moments between you and Vaneschewitz. She was indeed a good ship and a wonderful friend!

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