Treasuring the past; living now

My husband, Gary, had a ’66 GTO when he was a bachelor. In all the years of our marriage, any time one of these classic cars came within sight, it was pointed out to me; I know the front grill of this car by heart.


1966 GTO


Last weekend, my hometown hosted the annual Flashback Cruz with a fabulous line-up of hundreds of classic cars arrayed in Drake Park, crowned by a downtown cruise later that evening.

I browsed among the vintage vehicles while the Beach Boys sang, “… and we’ll have fun, fun, fun now that daddy took the T-Bird away.”


I’m digging the pink flamingo


Drifting from row to row of classic shine, I overheard some interesting snatches of conversation:

“ … original cloth, original design.”

“ … with that particular set-up, it had 1300 horses.”

“ … build a custom frame and chop the cab.”

“ … we were at a Reno car show and there were 550 of these there [Ford Model A Roadsters].”

I love seeing that kind of passion in people. These are vintage vehicle enthusiasts. They eat, sleep, live, repair, clean, and polish classic cars and trucks.



Wandering among the vehicles brought Gary to mind. Of course. He would have enjoyed this car show, this fabulous 60s music, being outdoors together.


Fins everywhere


It’s fun to flash back, isn’t it? Whether to a happier, healthier, married time—as in, me and Hubby before cancer, before widowhood—or to our childhoods, or our glory days when maybe we were the sports hero in high school. Memories are a good thing.

It’s also a good thing to look forward with goals and dreams. Whoever wrote this quote, from Eleventh Doctor, knew me well:

I am and always will be the optimist, the Hoper of far-flung hopes and Dreamer of improbable dreams.

I have a rather large and impossible vision (to me, but not to God) to someday repurpose a barn into a home and host retreats or workshops for women who have experienced loss and are ready to live forward again.

Looking back and dreaming forward are good things.

But I think the most important lesson cancer taught Gary and me was this one: Be here now. Live now while there is still life and breath.

In an effort to be here now after cancer invaded our lives, Gary and I took up hiking and snow-shoeing in Oregon’s Cascade mountains. We booked speaking engagements across the country: Driving New England’s back country roads during leaf season, exploring the Alamo in San Antonio, hiking to high places in the Tetons and the Rockies, sightseeing at Venice Beach, discovering Utah’s orange canyons.

And now those be here now moments show up as reels of memory-full movies scrolling in living color through my brain.

This is the balance I want to live today:

Polish and display and treasure our memories; be a Hoper of far-flung hopes and a Dreamer of improbable dreams; and live fully now.

Bonus material — a couple of not-your-ordinary classic cars caught my eye:


Um … not the original colors, I’m thinking 


Talk about your low-rider: ’54 Chevy pick-up


Crazy cool vintage RV


P.S. If you know someone who would benefit from living more in the now, please share, tweet or post!


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  1. tanya neelon

    Inspirational as always – T.

  2. tanya neelon

    Thanks Marlys!

  3. Judith Heaton Culpepper

    Thank you for THIS, today. Just returned from a weekend trip back home to celebrate my 62nd birthday, see my son and his wife, and admire the baby bump that is my soon be first grand baby. My husband would have loved it; this weekend also marked 11 months since he died. So very bittersweet to see the familiar places without him. Not to the dreaming part yet, but I get a glimmer of hope occasionally that eventually it will come.

    But, again, thanks for the blog. All of them. They help.


    • Oh, Judith, good for you for celebrating your birthday and soon-to-be grandchild by going “home”, which surely is a place so full of memories.

      You used the word “bittersweet”; I love this definition by Shauna Niequist: “Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a moment of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich even when it contains a splinter of sadness.”

      Blessings to you as you continue living forward.

  4. Marlene


  5. Sandy

    I loved this. Whenever Summer & I talk about our childhoods, it’s fascinating how similar your parenting styles, likes, music choices, love of cars (and so much more!) We’re similar to my parents ? My father was very much into the same cars your husband was… I miss him and I know Summer misses Gary. We were blessed with some wonderful dads ?

    • What a thoughtful and wise thing to acknowledge, Sandy: “We were blessed with some wonderful dads.” I’m afraid I’ve taken so many blessings for granted through the years – but the blessing that was my husband and Summer’s dad, I didn’t take for granted. And the cancer years only served to enhance what we had together. Thank you!

  6. Nora Weed

    Good morning Marlys, thanks for the wonderful pictures of vintage cars. Bob loved looking over my shoulder and said we should have gone to Drake Park ourselves. He is now 81 and I think of your words about living now almost everyday. I made a plan to go to Yosemite this year because this is one National Park he has never seen. I hope all your dreams come true!

    • Good for you, Nora, for making Yosemite plans and continuing to live in the now. An Australian cab driver once said to me that he didn’t understand why Americans came to Australia when there was so much to see in the U.S., which caused a lightbulb to click on in my head. It was one of those simple sentences that inspired Gary and me to visit more places in the U.S. Thank you for your encouraging words about my (impossible) dreams!

  7. Peter

    Perhaps it’s just a ‘man thing’…. (i.e. the love of cars). I loved what you shared and my thoughts/memories took me to the car I’ve always said I would love to have, one day…. a Maserati. Then memories of cycling with Barbara, high up in the French Alps, we were sitting out having a meal when I heard a sound and I said to Barbara, ‘Listen’. Then seconds later a Citroen/Maserati appeared, I purred too!!. (This is a one off model – A Citroen built car with a Maserati engine). My cars have nearly all been Citroens. I know this is a useless piece of information but your blog has caused me/us to recall such special memories and your sharing surely lifts us all, your readers. Looking at all the models you showed also took us to Silverton, Colorado where we saw such a wonderful display of people’s pets. Thanks again Marlys, Our love, God Bless, Bx P & family.

    • Peter, while I can appreciate the beauty of a car, it’s definitely a ‘man’ thing to be able to recognize a particular type of engine purring! Thanks for sharing your memories in the French Alps!

  8. These cars are gorgeous! I appreciate how much time the owners have taken to clean/wax them, just beautiful. I’d forgotten how huge and regal they were. So, Gary had a “Goat”? I’m so glad I remember these vehicles.

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