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Gratitude For The Hard Things

November 14, 2018

It’s the time of year when we put away the toys of summer and pull out the coats and boots, hats and gloves for the coming winter. Life in a desert is hard. We have modern conveniences to make it easier, but, it’s still a harsh environment. We have the heat of the summer and the cold of the winter.

I have a new vehicle headed into this winter. It’s one of those “new to me” vehicles. It’s a 1994 Dodge Dakota. I bought it from my daughter last summer after she got a “new to her” truck.

Last winter I drove a 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix. It had a big powerful six cylinder engine, but it was a front wheel drive car with aging tires. I worried about getting caught in the snow or ice. A Dodge Dakota is a four wheel drive vehicle. My truck has nice all weather truck tires.

And yet, my truck is not without its challenges headed into the winter. When I bought it, the fan didn’t work. That meant that neither the air conditioner nor the heater worked. Fixing the fan was a minor fix. However, the missing rear window is a slightly more of an issue. It has a piece of plexiglass filling in for the sliding portion of the rear window.

It’s breezy.

I asked my daughter, who used the truck up in Cache county, what she did during the winter? “Bundled up well.”

I won’t get it fixed this winter. My daily commute is about 45 minutes. After the first 15 minutes, the truck heats up well enough. I guess we’ll see how well it works in the cold of January.

Cars have been a big part of my summer and fall this year. I’ve replaced the power steering pump, alternator, and fuel pump in my son’s car. I replaced the fuel pump in my Dodge along with the fan relay. And my daughter was in a minor accident that crumpled her hood, broke both headlights and mangled the top radiator support.

My cars are old. I understand that. And kids bang them around in high school. And for that I’m grateful. I was never a car guy. Not really. Not until I got an old car and had to make it run.

My love affair with old cars started tentatively enough: oil changes, brake jobs, things that were simple. I moved on to more complex jobs: an alternator replacement. A new radiator.

And now I have a car sitting in my drive way that needed new frame work. A radiator is pretty simple. And the condensor that goes in front of it, is also not difficult. But, the radiator support arm is welded to the frame. To replace it you have to find a new one in a junk yard and cut it off the old car. As well as cut the broken one off my daughter’s car. It’s a lot of grinder work.

Then, you have to fit the replacement one onto the frame and weld it in place. The tricky part is making sure that the hood latch, which attachs to the top radiator support arm, lines up perfectly so the hood will latch, and most importantly unlatch.

I didn’t do the actual welding. That was my good friend and good neighbor. But, the rest of the work was me; cutting, grinding, scrounging through junk yards, and having the time of my life at it.

I’m not sure when the transition happened, when I went from being afraid to not being afraid. From dreading repairs to reveling in them. But, it certainly happened.

Looking back, I was certainly not grateful at the time. And I have to admit, there’s a little trepidation each time my car hiccups. But, overall, I enjoy my time spent with a socket wrench and a screwdriver.

In fact, I’m grateful now those hours spent with my head stuck under a hood.

At this time of Thanksgiving, it’s important to be grateful for our blessings. And I certainly have my share, family, children, grandchildren, health and jobs. We should be grateful that we live in the most beautiful part of the country. We should be grateful for our truly pleasant community. We should be grateful for our country, our freedoms and those who fought and died to preserve them.

But, we should also be grateful for the hard things. For the times of sickness, the times of trial. We should be grateful for the challenging times. The sorrows and for the old broken down cars.

The end

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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