Our first family car was a used light-blue Mercury four-door sedan with the plates 272YLG. It was a hard-earned vehicle, purchased by a young couple from Taiwan determined to make a living in America for their two young daughters. Our parents encouraged us to admire the beautiful scenery passing us by while my older sister and I rolled around without seat belts in the back (pre-California law). Our family laughed, cried and bonded over the miles.

After my baby brother was born, our family entered the station wagon phase. We had a blue Oldsmobile wagon with wood paneling and later, a dark blue Ford with chrome trim.

Our first really cool family car was a silver-and-black Dodge van that boasted a fancy chessboard table, window blinds and even a TV! My siblings and I would recline the seats, use ourselves as human antennas for the tiny television and crash after long trips to Vegas.

Now that my husband and I have a family of our own, I’m starting to realize that our cars are like silent members of the family. And, like people, they come and they go, but live on in our stories and memories.

Our first real family car was an ocean-mist-blue Honda Odyssey that was only a few months older than our son. Like all new parents, we cautiously drove him home from the hospital in it. Our minivan was the only car he and his older sister ever really knew. It was the vehicular stage for life’s big and small moments such as baby diaper catastrophes, family sing-a-longs and even minor fender benders.

When it finally gave out after a strenuous trip over the Grapevine, we thanked our beloved “supervan” for its many years of dependable service, took one last picture and tearfully said goodbye.

Our current family car is a four-door mini SUV. Surprisingly, the state-issued plates actually bear my initials. I’m grateful for our cars, past and present, and I thank God for all the memories we’ve made together.

May all of our cars keep us safe, take us on many adventures and serve us well. Here’s to the many roads we travel in life and the cars that take us there. 

Opinions expressed in this column are those of Nina Ha.

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