BALTIMORE, MD (February 9, 2018) Minivan Thompson has died, having lost a lengthy and courageous battle with the Maryland Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program. She was 14 years and 181,584 miles old.
A 2005 Town & Country whose green color was enigmatically called “Magnesium” by the Chrysler Corporation, Minnie was born in Fairway, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri. She was proud to be among the first Minivan models with two sliding doors, an innovation at the time, though only one of them would work consistently over the years. She also had the distinction of being the inaugural model of Minivan with Stow & Go seats, one of which eventually jammed permanently in the Go position.
Minnie worked for the Thompson Family from birth until her death. Known for her reliability, Minnie worked long hours for many years carrying the four Thompson children to countless school and sports activities. In 2004, she safely brought the family – and Newfoundland dog Echo, who had been drugged for the trip – the 1200 miles to their new home in Baltimore County, Maryland.
For the first five years of her life, the youngest Thompson child more or less lived in Minnie, considering the van her home, play place, and bed. Reached on Friday, this child, now a teenager, reminisced somewhat bitterly about the naps taken, DVDs watched, messes made, and mild neglect incurred in her carseat while her older siblings were being driven to their respective activities. She also recalled the many meals she ate in that carseat in fast food drive-thrus while begging her mother to please be allowed to eat inside. Minnie must have treasured these memories as well, as evidenced by the french fry souvenirs she kept for years in crevices within her interior.
Minnie was, in fact, a workplace for Beth Thompson, who spent most of her 40s in the driver’s seat, and often drove Minnie more than 100 miles a day when her husband was out of town. Neighbors found Minnie easily identifiable by the many high school and college stickers she wore proudly on her rear window, as well as a dent on the passenger’s side; many recalled waving daily as she zoomed past at speeds significantly over the speed limit with Mrs. Thompson behind the wheel, again late to wherever her children were supposed to be at the time.
Mrs. Thompson teared up on Friday remembering Minnie’s role in her cancer journey in 2006. “We used to joke that the car drove itself to Johns Hopkins” she said, recalling time spent traveling to and from doctor’s appointments and treatments which would ultimately save her life. She added that she would always be grateful for the quiet and protective privacy Minnie provided for her then-frequent crying jags in school and store parking lots all over Baltimore County.
Minnie was perhaps best known for the discretion she showed in keeping the family secrets. It was widely rumored that Mrs. Thompson had a habit of singing loudly with the radio, boldly attempting notes far beyond her vocal range while alone in the privacy of the car. It was also rumored that Mrs. Thompson had a regrettable tendency to use this same vocal prowess to yell loudly at her children from her perch in the driver’s seat, especially if it the matriarch had been driving all day, and had – for any myriad of reasons – had it. Discreet and loyal to the end, Minnie never confirmed these rumors, adding privately on her deathbed that “Beth Thompson is a saint. And a very good singer.” Sources have also suggested that dashboard confessions, elicited from Mrs. Thompson’s sons and daughters during their teenage years, were among the many family secrets she took to her CarMax grave.
Minnie was retired in 2012 when, for the first time in her life, Mrs. Thompson was able to purchase a “grown up car”. In retirement, Minnie remained with the family and became active in volunteerism, transporting the current Newfoundland dog Indy – who was fussy and wouldn’t get in any of the other cars – “for a ride”, “for a burger” and “for an ice cream”. Her huge back compartment, which could hold big boxes and a full size mattress, was also called into service to help move several of the Thompson children in and out of college dorm rooms and first apartments in Virginia, Ohio, and New York. Even in her twilight, Minnie lived for two years on a college campus in Cincinnati where, in the hands of the second Thompson son, she became known as the “swagger wagon”, suffered the loss of her driver’s side mirror, and incurred several probably-still-unpaid campus parking tickets.
In 2016, Minnie mysteriously and somewhat miraculously recovered from a dangerous and usually terminal malfunction in which she stalled at the first stop light she encountered right after she had been filled up with gas. Neither the cause nor the cure was ever found.
Friends recalled that Minnie never failed to shine a bright light on all who knew her : it was amber, and looked like an engine. It was also accompanied by a red ABS light, as well as a tire light that gleamed always, irrespective of the actual amount of air in the tires.
A Go Fund Me page has been set up to supplement the paltry three-digit check the family received for her from CarMax. The family would like to express their gratitude to the staff at Hollenshade’s Auto for their no-nonsense care of Minnie, and for their sage, if not terribly compassionate, advice in her last days to “get that thing off the road”.
The family requests privacy at this time.