Last Thursday was a noteworthy day at the Henley hacienda. On that day our fleet of vehicles declined from three to two with the sale of our 2003 Buick Century which we had purchased used several years ago.
The decision to part with the Buick was not made in haste. It had been a topic of discussion for my wife, Nancy, and I ever since I turned in my car keys after I was deemed a potential risk if I chose to remain behind the steering wheel because of the Parkinson's with which I am afflicted.
While the sale of the Buick, the oldest of our trio of vehicles and not surprisingly featuring the most miles at a little over 142,000, had been talked about for several months no real headway was made until Tuesday of last week when Nancy took the car in for an inspection in order to renew its license plates. My bride returned home with a handful of estimate sheets that detailed the cost of the work that needed to be done in order for the Buick to pass the inspection. Needless to say estimates totaling over $1,000 served as a powerful motivator for us to step up our efforts to find a buyer for the Buick.
My email to a coworker regarding his interest in the vehicle generated only a "thanks but no thanks" response. Nancy placed a home made "for sale" in a window of the car, but that attracted zero interest.
Efforts to sell the Century gained momentum after Nancy, with help from her sister, Gloria, decided to market the car on an online marketplace for people with older vehicles to sell.
Nancy took multiple photos of the Buick and emailed them to Gloria, who combined the images with some information about the car and then posted it on the website. The reaction was almost immediate as people called wanting to set up a time when they could come by to see it first hand. As it turned out two different groups came to see the car.
Normally I would handle the haggling in such a transaction, but because of my Parkinson's caused balance issue, Nancy did not want me on the steps which left it up to her to handle the negotiations, which was a position she did not relish being in. But she did a great job, only coming in to ask my opinion once.
Nancy utilized a full disclosure approach when talking to potential buyers, pointing out the positives such as just having its oil changed earlier that week and that its tires are just a little over a year old and potential negatives such as its aging water pump and its hesitation when the transmission is shifting from first to second gear.
Nancy's honesty likely paid dividends as the Palmyra couple willingly paid what we were asking, which wasn't too much.
Nancy, who drove the Buick almost exclusively when shopping or going to work, seemed pleased that the man and woman who bought the car seemed intent on fixing it and using it.
The Buick will be fondly remembered. It was reliable about starting during the winter regardless of how cold it was. It hauled our family to far away beach vacation destinations and back home again without a speck of trouble. It was the car that my daughter, Anna, learned to drive in. It carried me to countless assignments, ranging from ribbon-cuttings to fires.
Thursday night after Nancy completed the transaction I asked her if the Buick was gone.
"Yes, they took it," Nancy said. "Why, did you need to say goodbye?"
My initial reaction was that such a question need not be asked, after all it was just a car. But as I reflected on all that vehicle had done for the Henley family, I found myself wishing I'd had a little time to say goodbye.