I wrote this out a few years back when I sent a letter to Oprah (she never wrote back). What I should have done was send it to “Overhaulin’” because they could have pimped it out pretty good. I love this story and every time I hear the song I cry. The mustang is ready to be restored again and I think Derek and Brandon (my bro and his 15-year-old son) are ready to tackle it. Until then, it is still sitting in the back yard waiting…
The Mustang Story
When my brother Derek was 15 or maybe even 14, he and my Dad bought an old 68’ Mustang. It needed a lot of repair. They spend the whole year fixing it up together. There was a song on the radio at the time by Jeff Carson called The Car. It was about a boy, his father and a car. The father in the song could never afford the car for his son, and they never did get to spend the time together. Upon his death the father gave the son the car keys.
The song didn’t quite apply to Derek’s and Dad’s situation, but even still, anytime it came on the radio they would call each other on the phone and let the other know they were thinking of the other.
Derek saved his money and bought shiny new rims for the car. They had given it a new paint job and it looked pretty sweet. Well, like any other 16-year-old boy, he wanted to move on and buy something bigger and better, so he sold the Mustang. It broke Dad’s heart, but he never did say it.
12 years later my Dad was the best man in Derek’s wedding. I remember him putting together his best man’s speech. He was so proud. He was trying to shorten it down from a long 8 minutes. He also was trying to find the car song, but time ran out and he couldn’t find it. He did mention it in his speech. We all laughed and cried.
Two weeks after my brother’s wedding, my Dad fell off a ladder and died. It was very unexpected and traumatic. We needed to find that song and play it at his memorial service. Derek’s new brother-in-law did some research and found it. We played it at his service and it meant a lot. Derek said that day, that he would give anything to have that car back. I never forgot that.
A year later I was putting together a slide show for my wedding. While going through family pictures I came across a picture of my Dad and Derek sitting in the Mustang. Dad was driving and I don’t think Derek even had his license yet. This is when I got the idea. Derek had married a wonderful woman who had a little boy. My brother was now a father. Father’s day was soon approaching and I thought the perfect gift was to frame this picture with the words to the car song. I also set out to find the Mustang.
I knew the license plate number and the color. I put the word out to everyone I knew. If it was around town I would find it sooner or later. 6 days before Father’s day I received a phone call. One of my friends had spotted the car and gave me an address. It was late in the evening and I drove over to the address to see. Sure enough, there it was.
The next evening my mom and I went to the house to talk to the owner. A man was outside and he told us that it was his girlfriend’s car. He gave me her phone number and said to call her later. When I called her, she wouldn’t even come to the phone. The boyfriend said she really loved the car and wasn’t interested in selling it. So, I cried. Sobbing on the phone I gave him the whole story. I told him how I wanted to buy this car for my brother and give it to him on Father day. He said he would talk to his girlfriend about it and she would call me back later.
11:30 that night she called. She said she would sell, but at a higher price than I thought I would have to pay. I called my mom and she said to buy it at any price. So, I called her back and we made arrangements to pick it up on Friday night. Brad and I went to pick it up and we stored it at Brian’s (Brad’s brother) house for the weekend.
On Father’s day Brad, mom and I went over to Derek’s house. I didn’t want to make too big of a deal out of Father’s day, I didn’t want him to suspect anything. I gave him his framed picture and he cried. He asked where I found the picture. While this was going on Brian had driven the car to Derek’s house. We had made a CD with the car song playing over and over and we had it playing on the CD player in the car. The doors wide open.
I made up some excuse for Derek to come outside. When he did, he saw his car. He dropped to his knees and wept. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He walked around it and lightly touched it. He wanted to know how and where we found it. Then he wanted to know how much money he owed us!
He noticed little things about the car. The shiny rims he saved so long for were still on it. The carpet they had taken out of Dad’s van was still in the back window. The paint, though peeling, was their paint job. Even the screwdriver they had rigged up to use as an emergency brake was still in place. It was like someone was storing it for him for the last 13 years.
My brother was so happy. He told me he would never get rid of this car again. When he misses Dad he will go sit in it. He couldn’t believe he had it back…after all these years.
As for me, it was an incredible experience. Even though it wasn’t my car, it made me feel close to my Dad. I was happy Derek had his mustang back. That Father’s day was one of the best days of my life, and I know my Dad was in heaven smiling.
This is the photo plaque I made my brother for father’s day that year.
* A crazy side note about this story. When we went to make the deal with the girlfriend my mom and I met her at her house down off of the 805 freeway (about 25 minutes from where we live). When we walked in, my Designs By Chelle candles were burning in the living room. The girlfriend recognized me and told me that she was a customer and that she had driven the car to my factory in El Cajon many times. I was always inside helping customers or making candles and I never checked out the cars in the parking lot. Weird.
Another day in my life.