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A Girl, Her Dad and a Land Rover

Ten years ago today, I brought Kal –– my 2002 Land Rover Discovery Special Edition Kalahari –– home from the dealership.

Those of you who have read A Daughter’s Gift would know how much my father loved his Land Rovers, and how much it meant to me to be his fellow adventurer in them. You’d know that I spent countless hours with him in the garage attached to our home as he worked on them. You’d know that one of my proudest moments was when he trusted me to drive the Series II we had at the time.

Land Rovers exemplified all that my father was, and all that we shared. They were somehow both a precious memory and an enduring connection. And what makes May 23, 2003 so special is that I never ever expected to have my own Land Rover –– they had stopped bringing them into Canada before my father died because they didn’t adhere to North American safety standards (air bags and the like) and when they were finally available again in the mid 1990s, the price points were far above anything that I believed would be feasible.

My father and his Series Land Rover… the one I learned and loved to drive.

But sometimes, maybe more often than we can allow ourselves to believe, impossible dreams do actually come true. And the fact that Kal still resides in our garage proves that.

Peter, Kenneth and I had been a one-vehicle family for 20 years when work commitments and the fact that Kenneth was now also driving made it impossible to manage with just our Subaru wagon. A Land Rover dealership in Waterloo had opened a year or two before, and for months Peter and I drove past it every day on our way home from work because construction had made our usual, shorter route impassable.

I would look at the dealership as he drove and point at a particular Land Rover –– the 2002 Discovery Special Edition Kalahari, though I didn’t know that at the time. The daily conversation went exactly like this:

Me: “Peter. Look. There’s a Land Rover.”

Peter: “Yes, but it’s YELLOW.”

Me: “Yes, but it’s a LAND ROVER.”

Then we’d chuckle. It was our ‘thing’.

During this time we were coming to terms with the fact that we really did have to decide on a second vehicle and make it work in the budget. So on a sunny Saturday morning in spring, Peter and Kenneth suggested that we test drive some vehicles, starting with a Land Rover. I was adamantly opposed. My logic was simple: I’d want one (there was no question about that) but we couldn’t afford it, and I’d be in a bad mood for at least the next two weeks if I drove one. But they were relentless, and so we pulled into the Land Rover parking lot.

The plan was actually to test drive a conservative green model –– my Dad’s Land Rovers had been green –– but as we pulled in, someone drove off in that one. So we grinned at each other and hopped into the yellow ‘Disco’ instead.

Me and Kal, way back in 2003… in the classic Land Rover pose.

When I climbed up and sat behind the steering wheel, it was as though everything good about my childhood, and everything special about my relationship with my father, suddenly wrapped around me. I’d been welcomed home.

The vehicle was much more modern than the rugged Series II I’d learned to drive… luxurious even. But it had the characteristic Land Rover feel –– protection and safety, adventure and wonder. It made anywhere and anything possible.

I drove for a little while, then Peter took over. I was quiet when we returned the keys to the sales person. Peter simply said, “Don’t give up hope, there might be a way.”

And obviously there was. Because Peter is a brilliant negotiator… because yellow isn’t the most popular colour in luxury SUVs… because, we think, my dad arranged for the right vehicle to be there… waiting for us… when the time came.

And because, you see, the people who love us the most never really leave us. And even impossible dreams do come true.

Thank you Dad, for everything.

And Happy Anniversary, Kal.