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Story by Lois Grace

You might have noticed that I have been conspicuously absent from AllAirCooled.com lately. Or you might not! Either way, I thought I'd bring you up to speed on why I have been AWOL from one of my favorite websites for so long. 2020 has been a busy year for my husband and me. As a result of this stuff going on, I haven't had the time or the inspiration (if that's the right word) to do much writing.

My 93 year old mom, while doing well on her own in her own home, reached the point where she just was not safe there anymore and we made the difficult decision to move her to an assisted living facility near us all. The move happened on August first, and things have been adjusting since then. But it was not a hasty or easy process: Mom did not want to just walk out of her home of 60 years without leaving things in order behind her and going through her things. One of my nieces and her roommates were going to be moving into Mom's house - the house we all grew up in - and it was important to my mother that the rooms they needed be completely empty. With the help of some wonderful caregivers, we all got what we needed. Mom is happy in her new little apartment and we have the security of knowing there will be someone nearby at all times. None of us realized how isolated Mom was in her own house; even though she had caregivers coming in and us visiting, she really had no meaningful contact with anyone else. Now, she eats meals in a dining room, has discovered she loves to play Bingo, and enjoys entertainment nearly every day. The peace of mind for all the rest of us has been worth the stress of getting her to this point.

With Mom moving, she was eager to tie up loose ends and one of those loose ends was my Dad's 1982 Rabbit pickup, Biff. Mom and I decided Biff was to be mine once the time came, and now that time was here so I have now taken over the care and feeding of Vernon's little brother. And yes, it's true: I probably now have more than 2 cars too many but who's counting? Right? I am learning all sorts of things about diesels, and I am sure will learn a lot more as time goes on. For the moment, Biff is resting happily under his new cover, in Mom's former garage. This is a big deal as Biff has never spent one single night under cover or indoors in his whole life. And the Kile Family Volkswagen Truck circle is complete.

Before Mom moved, Rob and I went to take my 1958 Convertible Beetle, Oscar, for a quick spin on a sunny weekend. Somewhere along the way, the brakes started feeling strange and before I knew it one rear brake shoe was binding. If you've got an old VW with brakes that grab and won't let go, it is a sure sign you need to drive it more! I have had this trouble with all of mine at one point or another but never with my convertible. I promised him I'd take care of it and we put him back to bed........and when we went back to fetch him his battery was dead so that was settled. One new battery later he is still waiting for me to get his brakes taken care of.

Then in June, Vernon and I got an invitation to a small, local all-car show at a church near us. On Father's Day we got Vernon cleaned up and left the garage behind for the day. On a whim, at the last minute, I put a photo of my Dad (taken right before he retired from his naval career in 1957, in his uniform) in Vernon's cab. It was a hot day, but the church was providing a really nice BBQ lunch and as we all sat eating cheeseburgers and ice cream, we chatted about our cars. Dad's photo was displayed in Vernon's bed and it was great telling people of our family's long history with the truck. We ended up winning one of four People's Choice awards given out that day, and many people came up to me after that to tell me they had voted for Vernon because of the longtime bond we share. It was so good to drive the old guy again, and we had so much fun doing just that that is was hard to come home and shut the garage door on him. But he is out there, ready to go when I can, and we will get out again soon.

Bogie, my 1969 Beetle and my former daily driver, is also in hibernation for the moment - more on that in a bit. But he is in perfect running condition, and starts right up when I ask him to. He could use a good wax but that is the only thing needed to make him perfect right now. Oh, a wax and some air in the left rear tire, that seemed a bit low when I saw it last. My goal for this car is just to keep him as nice as he's always been, as nice as he is now.

Gus, my 1990 Golf GTi and the car I depend upon the most, was recently detailed and sits in the driveway under his cover - waiting like all the others. But the one thing holding me up is that I can't drive any of them until after Christmas.

In the beginning of September, Rob and I packed up the truck, hitched our trailer, and headed for Oregon for a 3 week camping vacation. After the stress-filled previous 8 months, we were finally free to enjoy ourselves without restrictions or timetables! Oregon is a place we love, and where we hope to move once we get out of the crazy Bay Area. But first there was exploring to be done and we had a loose schedule of setting up our camp in one spot for several days and then looking around. But fate had other plans! I was getting out of the truck at a restaurant and when I put my right foot onto the running board/bar, my ankle rolled over and I went down in between the truck and the curb. In the top of my right foot was terrible pain! I'm a natural born klutz; I have fallen out of our trailers 3 different times, spraining ankles and collecting bruises and scratches. None of these falls was serious so I iced my toe, we went inside and ate breakfast and returned to the campsite. That night my big toe was purple with lovely red blotches and I couldn't move it well. I waited 3 more days before Rob took me to and emergency clinic in Bend, Oregon. The doctor was pretty sure the toe was broken, and when she came in with the results of my x-rays I knew it wasn't good. She said I'd broken the big toe in two different places, but the big surprise was that my left ANKLE was also broken! I did recall a vague bruise on my left leg and there was a funny lump on the outside of that ankle but it didn't really hurt that badly. They fitted me with a walking boot on the left and a post surgical shoe with a hard sole on the right and sent me back to camp with orders to stay off of my feet. We waited for Monday to see an orthopedic surgeon to make sure surgery was not necessary and thankfully, it wasn't. There really is not much you can do for a broken toe except tape it up and try to keep movement limited while it heals. The ankle is a simple break, and will heal well if I wear the boot. So, no driving for me till after Christmas. Till then all my faithful friends, vintage and otherwise, wait along with me.

I am sure I am forgetting something monumental that also happened during this time frame but I am not sure I want to remember what it was so let's just end it here. Oh wait, I know: I fell I hit my teeth together so hard that it damaged one lower tooth and I ended up having a root canal. Yep, I broke one ankle, broke the other toe, had a root canal, and then there's COVID 19. Like I said, it's been an eventful year so far and I am ready for all this nonsense to be over and done. I'd like to get back to my "normal life", whatever that might be. I hear from friends that I used to drive vintage VWs and write columns for VW website. I hope that's true. I'd like to do it again!

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