Returning from the Columbiana Street Fair parade, we entered our driveway at dusk where the glimmer of a moving bicycle slowed our approach. Alex, our neighbor, pulled his bike off to the side, let us pass, then wheeled around and drove up beside us. We had just seen him earlier driving up Main Street in the parade, sitting in front of his dad on their big tractor as they had for the past few years.
Still high on the experience, his excitement spilled at us before we could get out of our car.
“Did you see us in the parade? I was with Dad on our tractor.”
“Yes, I waved to you,” Josie grinned.
He had seen so many people. “Friends from school called out my name on both sides. I wanted to turn and see who everyone was, but my dad was telling me to keep my eyes on the road.” He breathed a quick laugh over the dilemma, and went on.
“This might be the last year we can drive it in the parade because we’re going to sell it. There will be an empty spot in the barn, but Grandma needs to sell it. It brought a lot of wood in from the back of grandpa’s place. Dad and I will really miss that tractor.”
I had noticed the tractor, sturdy and handsome, like its drivers, parked in front of Schnarrenberger’s house days before, but I hadn’t connected it with the parade until they went by in the line-up. Afterward, as I eased my car through the milieu uptown to meet my kids, there were Lee and Alex on the tractor waiting to cross Park Avenue on their way home. I stopped, motioned, and the tractor lurched forward past me. It was parked in front of their house again when we got back.
Nicknamed “Big Blue”, the ’63 Ford 6000 diesel had hauled in some hay bales in its day, but Grandma Ruth said it mostly did a lot of work in the back woods at her place. She thought she had it sold once, but the interested party was looking for different tires; these were wide.
How proud his grandpa might have been if he could have seen Alex driving in the parade, and even more pleased by the sentimental tone his young, usually carefree, grandson took when he talked about the tractor. He was stating his case because he knew he had to let go. Young or old, everyone has something like this tractor – a part of family memories that is hard to part with.
It reminded me that no matter how dear our possessions become to us, what really matters are the people we’re with and the memories we make with them.
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