..who cried a river and drowned the whole world (when she bought a new car).
For Valentine’s Day, it seemed fitting to pay tribute to my one true love.
As previously mentioned, I hate endings. I don’t watch finales more than once. I am the queen of Irish goodbyes. And I don’t finish projects.
I moved to Roswell in 2013 with Caroline after finishing grad school. My parents were concerned that I would be driving around Roswell in my Honda Civic and rightfully so. I don’t have what you would call a “pristine” driving record. I failed my test at sixteen but was too embarrassed and lied to my friends at school and said I didn’t have all the correct paperwork.
encouraged me forced me to get an SUV, so I would have more metal around myself. On a sad summer day, I had to say goodbye to Danny Devito.
That same day I said hello to the beaut that would be my Rhea Perlman. If you don’t know, Danny Devito and Rhea Perlman were married (still legally are) ergo my name choice.
I loved that car. Still do. A part of my heart may always have a Rhea shaped hole in it. We did life together. Six moves. A roadtrip to Philadelphia. A lot of spilled coffee. Beach trips. Billy Joel singalongs. A wreck. Ok a couple of wrecks. Ok a lot of wrecks. She was a tough broad. She was willing to give her life for me on more than one occasion. It’s a love without end. Amen.
As a tribute to her, I thought I describe some of her more heroic moments.
My sweet friend, Caitlin was accompanying me to a Ben Rector concert at the Tabernacle in Atlanta. Caitlin and I met when I was teaching at Lake Oconee. She had recently found out she was pregnant and was telling me about her doctor’s visit while I drove down I20.
Nothing out of the norm for a sane person, but there is a piece of information you should know about me. I faint. Like a goat. I can’t help it. I’ve been told I have syncope, but I’ve never really asked a medical professional. Any doctors want to chat?
The first time I fainted, I was in the first grade, so it has been a part of my life for so long that I don’t even really think about it. There are certain things that “trigger” my brain. Mostly medical related. I can feel the faint beginning, and I can usually stop myself from falling. Except for that time at the health department. And that time in grad school. And in diabetes training. Ok. Back to Rhea’s heroism.
Precious Caitlin was telling me about the fetus in her amniotic sac-and there it was. A trigger word. I could feel the onset of a faint. I reminded Caitlin about my weird issues and promised that my demand for her to stop talking was not reflective of my excitement over the life she was growing. I said, “There’s an exit right there. I’m going to get off and get out of the car for a bit and get some water. I’m fine. I can get there.” Famous (almost) last words. It went dark. I could barely hear Caitlin shouting in my ear, “I need you to hit the brake. KAT, I NEED YOU TO HIT THE BRAKE.” We hit the guard rail on I20 just shy of Exit 114. And because of that day, Rhea always had a dent in her passenger door that would pop when you opened it. A reminder of God’s provision and my frugality.
In May of 2015, Caroline and I were traveling to Hilton Head, South Carolina to meet the rest of the family for a Memorial Weekend beach trip. We were driving down the interstate and all of a sudden a tire on an eighteen wheeler blew. The tire was air born and heading straight for us. There was a car beside me in the other lane, so I couldn’t get over. Everything was moving in slow motion. It was like Final Destination. The whole tire hit my windshield and shattered it.
We were in complete shock. Cars behind us stopped, and people got out to see if we were ok. We called our brother in law, who is an attorney, to ask advice on what to do.
“Michael, we just got hit by a tire and are stranded. What do we do?”
“Hike up whatever you’re wearing and get outside the car and flag someone down.”
“MICHAEL. WE’RE SERIOUS!”
Later, I was on the phone with a police officer and was explaining the accident.
“Are you alone in the vehicle, ma’am?”
“No. My sister is with me.”
“Does she have the same last name?”
“No, sir. Her last name is Domogala.”
From the passenger seat, “HECK YEAH IT IS!” (Caroline was still a newlywed. Not. the. time.)
There are many more stories I could tell about Target parking lots, parking decks, side roads, drive thrus, et al, but Bob Ross himself couldn’t begin to paint the depth of mutual love. Bye bye, Rhea Perlman. I’ll miss you in the saddest fashion. You’re 5,000 candles in the wind.
Maybe one day soon I’ll share the tale of how I got my new car, Hyundai Boo Boo, but for now, the wound of losing Rhea is still open. I need to let it scab. But, if you can imagine, buying Hyundai Boo Boo was dramatic in the best way.