Discussing my life with Cluster Headaches is one thing. Living with them is another. Once in awhile I blog about what hurts me, what makes me happy and what I love besides my family. Sadly this story ends on my disease.
Cars or the love of them started like any childhood boy. Hot Wheels. I rarely played with Matchbox. I would pretend, make fake garages, drag race and show off my rides. I kept them and saved them for my son. I had no idea at such a young age what my life would be like with cars in my brain.
I think it was around age 10. My older brothers friend had a 72 Nova with a nicely done 350 that ran 13's in the 1/4 mile. I was able to ride in it once. I was hooked.
My older brother ended up being a mechanic. I know full well he took advantage of my free help every time he was in the garage. But the trade off was invaluable. What I learned taught me throughout my life. He was a car guy but no where near the way I was or am today. I never once asked to be paid for my help because I was more than happy to pass a wrench to pulling a motor. I was like a sponge. What I learned from him in a weekend it took 4 years of high school. I am forever grateful despite our lives today.
When I was 14. My friend and I would take the bus downtown stand on the sidewalk and watch all the hot rods, muscle cars and wanna be's in the station wagons (before minivans people) stare and watch and drool at the cool cars drive by. Literally we would hit "Multi-Mag" a magazine store and pick out Hot Rod magazine and other car magazines and dream. I vowed when I was 16 would soon cruise the drag in my car.
I got a job telephone soliciting, yes the scum of the earth low life POS job. I hated it but I worked 40 hours a week and went to school. In 9 months at age 15 I bought my very first car. a 1977 Impala with aerocoupe back window. I wanted a Nova but my dad said no you will just hot rod it. And he was right. I hot rodded the Impala.
* definition of a hot rod (according to Peterson(( Hot Rod Magazine founder)) is any vehicle modified to enhance its visual look or performance *
Well, 5 transmissions later, a hopped up 350 and paint and interior and I did my first car. The paint was so bad it waived to you. It was gaudy, tacky but quick and alllllll mine. The car represented freedom.
In high school people partied, drank did drugs. I worked, and put time, money,,blood sweat and tears into my car and I figured rather than partying it away I had something to show for it instead of a hangover.
That car was the first of many more to come. I have owned more cars than most people have driven different cars in their lifetime. I been blessed.
See, owing a car for me isn't a transportation module to get from point A to Point B, C and so on. To me it is an identity, and extension of who I am. A reflection of my personality. I look forward to the experience of driving. I look forward to cleaning my car if its dirty.(almost never is), I look forward to reading about cars on line(wife calls it car porn) and in person with fellow gear heads. Its not ownership. It is a way of life. It is who I am.
While you can not pin point me to a specific car because I had so many but a couple really meant alot to me. It is a passion, a hobby, a way of life.
The interest in cars has lead me to a major in high school. Two jobs as a Service Advisor. Wrenched in two garages. It has lead me to meet many car celebrities such as George Barris, Gene Winfield, Chip Foose, Tim Allen and had the ultimate gear heads dream....go to Jay Leno's garage. I don't say this to brag I say it to share with people who get me....
My greatest accomplishment I believe in my life is my son. With my hand on the bible I will attest to the fact my sons very first words were "HotRod". He would point at my 74 Nova SS and say Hot Rod HotRod....then came da da. His mom would beg to differ. But we will go with what i said.
I took that boy to every car show possible. I never ever once forced the boy to go anywhere. I always gave him the option to stay. He is like AMEX I never left home without him. He too started with Hot Wheels, I then built him his 1st electric car. It was a #3 Dale Earnhardt car. By age 4 he banged it up good and I re did it and made a Dale Jr car. At age 5 he installed the transmission on my HotRod truck and sanded and stripped the firewall. By age 11 he and I built a chopper bicycle which placed 2nd against 6 motorcycles in a bike show. He as always been in the garage helping me on my cars. Teaching him how to change oil, service brakes, wax, detail and more. By age 14, he saved and got his first car. We built that car in one spring / winter and spring. Everyday after school when he was here or I was feeling ok we were going mad on it to get it done.
He and his car was featured in Old Autos magazine and has been in Hot Rod magazine (April 2014 issue).
We take it to cruise nights, car shows, watch the drags and the states to cruise in. My greatest accomplishment isn't the car. Its my son.
The car hobby has given me a life. I opened Canada's first real Hot Rod Biker Barber shop. It was a gear heads dream to go there. I loved it and fulfilled my dream of owning my own business that no one else had.
It has given me the opportunity to travel, meet famous people to reg no body's like me who share the same passion for cars as I do. Any car guy can be any gas station look at another car persons car and strike up a conversation like two long last pals. They can be totally two different generations and makes of cars but the premise of being a gear head is the same.
Even sitting at a traffic light I know when a gear head is looking at my car. They smile. give the nod or thumbs up. Ya just don't get that in a minivan with soccer balls.
If you are truly blessed you as a gear head will get mixed up with a bunch of fellow gear heads who have a club. And my club its much more about the cars. I found that out recently. I am beside myself with the love we share amongst each other. A kinship. A brother hood. Respect.
I know Cluster Heads may not get this or gear heads may not get this since I am both. But its like being in a room, a car can pull in and we can have a conversation without opening our mouth. Same with a fellow survivors watching someone have an attack.
I am extremely proud and blessed to be apart of something that means so much to me.
I really thought I was going to have to give up the car thing. You see. I was putting the headliner in my truck. It was a hot summer afternoon. July 25,2005 in fact. My ex wife. Just called me and said she had been in an accident. We had just lost a baby on my birthday April 5,2005. My son was dealing with night terrors from being mauled by a dog( he was 5). And his grandfather wasn't doing well. (passed away Sept), I had my very first attack that day. And over 10,000 since. I really thought my life was over. A few times. I wanted it to be.
As time went on. I learned to cope, live, manage and have brain surgeries and so forth. I learned that really....even if I don't have a car. I am still a car guy. You can take the Hot Rod away from me. But not out of me. I live now vicariously through my son.
So if you see me at a cruise, a car show, drag strip, a race, some sort of car thing or just driving with the tunes going...know that I am at peace. That when I am amongst my fellow brothers every Sat or an event or just somewhere with my son and wife at a show. Know that I am smiling for way different reasons than many are.
While I am ridiculed for Cluster Suicide headache decals on my car its because I am a survivor. The decal represents hope to those who think they have none. There is a life past this disease. And I am living it.
Love you son.