For the 20 years my wife and I have lived in our current home, we’ve known a neighbors who is also the father of one of my wife’s friends and the grandfather of one of my son‘s friends. About 10 years ago I began to admire a Dodge Ram dually he had parked in his driveway.
About four years ago while out for a walk, I ran into my neighbor and said, “If you ever want to sell that truck, come talk to me first.” A year later he mentioned he was selling is camper and eventually was going to sell the truck. I told him I definitely wanted to buy it. He had lots of questions as to why I wanted that truck. My simplest answer is that I was interested in using it on our East Texas cattle ranch. But I also hinted at that I was kind of a gear head and had a few other automobile projects.
Shortly after this conversation I got the news that my neighbor had a heart attack while mowing the lawn. If you know James, it wouldn’t surprise you that he was going to survive that ordeal. Still, my conversations during visits shifted to ones of health and happiness. We did not talk pickup trucks.
As James recovered from his heart surgery, he got even worse news–he had been diagnosed with cancer. He was going to beat it but cancer isn’t as simple of a victory as heart surgery. Over the next two years our visits and talks were ones of recovery and beating cancer. It wasn’t a surprise that he beat it. We still didn’t talk trucks.
One day while walking his dog, my neighbor stopped and asked me, “Are you still interested in that truck?” It was then our conversation expanded. As we dusted off this truck which had sat in his driveway for three years, we still talked health, business, history, and a variety of things. When we fired up the truck we came across our first problem which was that the rear brakes were locked. I planned on having a mechanic come by the next day so we could unlock them and get it into the shop. I never got that chance as when I got home from work the truck was in my driveway and the keys were in my mailbox. I had a voicemail from my neighbor that said, “Drive it for a few weeks and then we’ll talk.”
This 2000 Dodge Ram 3500 5.9L Cummins was immaculate. Still, it had a crank sensor issue that roughed the ride a bit and a few other odds and ends that needed to be addressed. Still, it was good to go so I wrote him a check and he signed over a title. We weren’t done.
Before I got the truck to a trusted mechanic, my neighbor and I continued our walks and visits and talked quite a bit. I was soon realize that interest in a truck turned into a friendship that gave me a front row seat to an incredible story of health and survival. The truck was just a connection point. After I got the truck fixed our plans were to take it up to Luby’s to have lunch. The truck is fixed; yet, COVID-19 hit and the Luby’s trip is on hold. Still, I’ve been checking in on my neighbor and his wife and keeping in touch. The truck is now in East Texas; yet, eventually Luby’s is going to re-open and I’m going to drive it back in for that lunch.