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Soccer Poet

Jeep 1994-2010

Friends, it is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of Jeep who drove her final quarter mile this past Saturday morning. She went out as she would have chosen, much like we all would – making another airport run. But let us not dwell on the sorrow in our hearts, but instead celebrate the life of our newly departed sister as she crosses over to a smoother, better lit highway free of toll booths, texting drivers and flattened armadillos, where windshields need never be scraped of bugs, and where her miles per gallon won’t bankrupt her heavenly driver.

For over 200,000 miles, Jeep never met a stranger. She was inviting and accessible – the Taylor Swift of automobiles. She was comfortable with her celebrity in a way few are. Oh how the people would love to ride in her with the top down and the doors off as she coasted along the sands of Daytona Beach. With the kayak bungeed to her roll bar and fishing poles jetting over the tailgate, she would sashay along A1A like a pageant beauty to the delight of all who lined the street, like heavily tattooed bikers and half-in-the-bag spring breakers staggering back to their motel rooms.

Jeep’s favorite trips were the 400 mile trips down to Key West, especially the night hauls that included a roadside camping spot somewhere south of Marathon. Jeep loved to camp, to cool her hood under a starry sky. And on each stay in Key West she would lay quiet as a homeless person scavenged her for loose change or an old pair of shoes. Jeep knew to be charitable. Some nights she was home to the neighborhood cats, and once to a raccoon. And sometimes, when the top was down and the skies would suddenly turn midnight black and open up like they only do in Florida, and the rains would fall in thick sheets, Jeep did a great impression of a fish bowl. Many motorists would pass and point at us as the rain hammered down. And they would laugh. Oh how they would laugh. And how I wish they would have stopped to introduce themselves.

But Jeep was no diva. She was tough… a mudder. She loved getting her tires wet and her windshield dirty. Twice she was rear-ended and suffered no visible damage. The cars that rammed her? Ever stepped on a Coke can? That’s what their front ends looked like. Justice served.

I was 26 when we met in Macon, GA in October of 1994. I drove her off the lot that night. She was my first, and still my only, new car. I had hair then, and also hopes of a bright future. And Jeep could comfortably purr in the low 90 m.p.h. range. But together we aged.

By the end Jeep was a wreck. Her heater hadn’t worked since the 90s. She’d gone through three tops and four stereos. The dash lights stopped lighting in 2001, around the same time the horn stopped working. The paint has peeled off her hood and the driver’s side door is rusting through – much like the floor. The emergency break is for show only. The cigarette lighter is just a hole. The right indicator died shortly after we moved to Athens. She tops out at about 74 m.p.h. unless we have a stiff tailwind or are going off the side of a mountain. I don’t even know where we jettisoned the back seat, but it’s been years since I’ve seen it. And the front seats? Well, they are so battered that they are in a permanent state of severe recline. I have to drive with two pillows supporting my back or else I would be staring up at the canvas top. But she never complained.

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When she came to her final stop just outside of the Atlanta airport, on the wrong side of a blind curve with cars zooming by at dangerous speeds, Jeep still looked so peaceful, so casual, like the beach girl she was born to be. But alas, she was gone – the victim of a dropped transmission. A senseless tragedy.

So tonight, as we say our final farewells, let us do so with joy in our hearts, a fond remembrance of a free spirit who lived a full, happy and eventful life, and who never ran over a house pet.

Thank you for attending. May you go in peace.

Please sign the guest book on your way out.