TRUE STO­RIES FROM A WHEEL­ING WIDOW

4WDrive - - Contents - Words and photos cour­tesy Jes­sica Sul­tan

I’m writ­ing this ar­ti­cle as a shout out to all my fel­low truck-widow and wi­d­ow­ers. You of­ten hear about foot­ball wid­ows and work-wid­ows: but never the poor part­ner of a truck-ob­sessed per­son, and the sor­rows that they en­dure.

One could ar­gue I should have seen this com­ing: since I’ve known him, my hus­band has been, let’s say, me­chan­i­cally minded. It was made clear to me early on in our re­la­tion­ship that if I mar­ried him, I’d also be mar­ry­ing his chil­dren. I mean, his trucks. Plus all the gad­gets

and parts and who-knows-what-else that comes with them.

I signed up for this life - sur­viv­ing one of our ear­li­est off-road dates and com­ing back for more. Who could forget that ro­man­tic evening when we took the very first Jeep off-road­ing, only to have to aban­don the truck in the marsh and walk out of the Kanata high­lands in the pitch black? Ter­ri­fy­ing on its own, but throw in a bro­ken foot, a night with no moon, and a five-hour walk out of the woods and you’ve got a recipe for dis­as­ter.

Me: “I can’t go on. It’s too painful. I think it’s bro­ken. Can you carry me out?”

Him: “Ha! Fat chance of that! Uh, I mean, no. I’m sure it’s not bro­ken, just a bruise, but if it hurts that much, I think it would be best if you wait here [in the pitch dark, deep for­est full of howl­ing wolves and freez­ing scari­ness] and I’ll come back for you af­ter I get help. OK?”

That should have been enough to send any­one scream­ing, but my love for this hand­some, handy, can-fix-any­thing, prob­lem-solv­ing man led our re­la­tion­ship to con­tinue.

We lived in an apart­ment, then a town­house, then a sin­gle house (with a dou­ble garage big­ger than the house it­self; a sell­ing fea­ture for him for sure), fol­lowed by a house with an over­sized garage in a new sub­di­vi­sion (read: small lot, but over­sized garage), and fi­nally, a 45-acre farm. I’m sure you can see how this evolved.

When we moved from our last home to our cur­rent farm, it took 3.5 mov­ingtrucks to shift all of our pos­ses­sions. Two of those loads con­tained items SOLELY from the garage, the shed and the base­ment stor­age (my hus­band’s truck stuff). He keeps ev­ery­thing: bro­ken fans, old VCRs, fried moth­er­boards, an­cient light fix­tures. It may seem over­whelm­ing to some. One might even whis­per the word ‘hoarder’! But I know bet­ter. You never know when an out­dated elec­tri­cal socket might come in use­ful when re­build­ing an engine. True story!

I know all of my fel­low truck-wid­ows and wi­d­ow­ers will stand in sol­i­dar­ity and un­der­stand in­tu­itively with­out need­ing me to ex­plain the fact that there is now an en­tire barn on my prop­erty ded­i­cated to the care and con­ser­va­tion of trucks in var­i­ous states of dis­re­pair. Need an engine? #gotit. Need a winch? A tranny? Any sort of hoist or lift kit or whatchamacal­lit you could imag­ine? Oh, we’ve got it. It’s in our truck-barn. Forget the kids’ bikes. Forget the camper! They’ll be fine in the open. It’s the TRUCKS that need a stor­age space, out of all that nasty cold and snow, where the poor things can be safe and snug and ready to roll next spring.

But wait, what’s that I see? Surely that’s a truck and trailer that wasn’t there yes­ter­day. Has my hus­band ac­tu­ally taken to sneak­ing ma­chines in here, hop­ing I won’t no­tice just one more? The tarp on top of this mys­tery 4x4 says yes, al­though my heart is hop­ing no.

Miss­ing your beloved? Is he or she out run­ning er­rands? Are they fin­ish­ing work on re­pair­ing that tricky wet spot in the base­ment? Oh, no. Oh, no no no. They are out in the barn, mu­sic blar­ing, con­cen­trat­ing on get­ting that engine singing once more. Just one more tweak. One more thing to try. “You’re okay with putting the kids to bed tonight alone again, right honey? I should just be a few more... hours. Surely this puppy will be trail-ready in no time. I must have that part I need in here some­where...”

Won­der­ing what it’s like to eat din­ner

to­gether as a cou­ple, rather than rolling your eyes and giv­ing in to the fact that your love isn’t com­ing out of the truck­cave un­til that mo­tor is purring to sat­is­fac­tion? Oh. I hear you. The hours I’ve missed of hav­ing him by my side watch­ing Net­flix. The days of hold­ing hands and gaz­ing into each other’s eyes, sac­ri­ficed for the bet­ter­ment of mud­ding.

Let us not forget the truck stored in said barn that has not seen the light of day in what, eight years? I’m told she’s a oneof-a kind, class-of-her own off-roader and bet­ter still, the most ca­pa­ble ma­chine in the world. Drive it?? WHAT? Surely you jest! This baby needs her own barn, her own ded­i­cated care-stall, where she can be pam­pered and cov­eted, pos­si­bly driven out once a year - slowly, SLOWLY!! - To a truck show, but never, ever used for her real pur­pose. Gads of in­sur­ance spent, mul­ti­ple hours ded­i­cated to her up­keep? Yes! A hun­dred times, yes. Why would one even ques­tion.

And then. The ma­jes­tic Un­i­mog makes her de­but into the sun, a mere 14 years af­ter be­ing pur­chased. Surely all this care and up­keep, this ded­i­cated pa­tience and gen­tle touch, has all led to this one won­drous mo­ment, this leap­ing into her new life of off-road supremacy. She sees the light! She’s off, into the field, around the cor­ner, sun blar­ing, birds chirp­ing, ev­ery­thing that is right in the world is aligned. And then... slurp. Bur­ble! Urghhh. She is stuck. Sinking in the swamp, buried up to the bumper.

You he­si­tate, won­der­ing what will hap­pen next. Will your part­ner freeze in the hor­ror of this mo­ment? Will they break down, grief over­whelm­ing them at the thought of their pre­cious baby mud­locked and scared, un­able to break free?

Or will they whoop with joy, rat­tling of the names of their peeps who can come with Jeeps, trucks, four wheel­ers, who knows what... ma­chines with var­i­ous types of pull and power, winch­ing and haul­ing, that you don’t un­der­stand and - let’s be clear here - you don’t even re­ally want to try? My bet is on op­tion three: get­ting her stuck in the mud is prob­a­bly THE BEST OUT­COME one could have wished for, the chance to have to call in all sorts of back up to save the day, haul­ing this princess out of her muddy-stays. Dis­as­ter? Hush!! It’s an ad­ven­ture to rel­ish.

Round up the boys! Round up the kids! Look at the hole she dug. This is go­ing to take awhile.

The new homestead.

Mog in the bog.

The mog's ar­rival.

A drive­way full of Jeeps.

The mog in the bog.

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