For a second time today, my grandson and I climbed into the yellow seat of the green machine for a spin around the property. The Gator was my birthday present in 2000, the year after my father died. My mother bought one for me and one for my brother; we both had birthdays in May. Mine has been in the shop, had a tire fall off, had the seat replaced, and had a switch installed to operate the engine fan manually. The transmission pops out of gear with an ear-shattering grinding noise like fingernails on the blackboard. The gas gauge no longer registers full or empty so we must try to remember to check the tank before we back out of the garage. My brother’s Gator has been replaced by an orange Kubota–his loyalty to John Deere forever tarnished. In my husband’s heart, the Gator has been replaced by his Kawasaki camouflauge-painted T-Rex, although he uses my Gator for his dirty jobs. It is always full of bags or tools or trash or a shotgun leaned against the passenger seat.
My Gator will have a spot in our garage until the death knell tolls. It is a part of the family as no car ever was. It was a gift from my mother and hauled load after load of dirt to flower beds and piles of weeds away from flower beds in the years of my gardening obsession. It remains faithful to us after all those flowers and plants lie neglected beneath years of weeds. It remains faithful after Jacob and Cary moved from its yellow plastic seats to the adjustable seats of a profusion of cars. It remains as a loyal member of the family ready to offer itself to a second generation of children. Its days may be numbered, but it will live them out in the heated comfort of our garage surrounded by younger T-Rex’s and Zero Turn Mowers.