After more than four decades of searching, John Berry has finally been able to locate his mother’s 1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme.
Wearing oversized aviator sunglasses and a scarf tied loosely around her head, the now 61-year-old Berry recalled fondly of his mother, “She would make it an event to go to the supermarket. My mom really loved that car.”
Janis Berry, Berry’s mother, died unexpectedly in 1975, at the young age of 43 when Berry was just 15.
“We never got to say goodbye. It was devastating for all of us,” said Berry. “It was a sense of loss that’s hard to describe.”
The convertible was the sole vestige of Berry’s mother that stayed in the family — but that was short-lived.
By the time of Janis’s death, Berry’s parents had divorced and were estranged. Despite the call being driven by his mother and the children inheriting their mother’s possessions, because the Oldsmobile was in Barry’s father’s name, 5 years after Janis’s death he sold it to a car collector in Toledo, Ohio.
Describing the loss Berry said, “I didn’t appreciate how much it meant.” However, by the 1990s, it was hitting him hard.
“As I grew older, I just longed for her to be in my life,” he said. “So I began my quest to hunt down the car.”
After receiving the name from the father of the man to whom the car was sold, Berry took years to locate Mike Hamilton. Reaching out via email, to Berry’s surprise and luck, Hamilton still owned the car but was not interested in selling it.
Disappointed, Berry remained grateful saying at the very least, “it was important to me that I knew where it was.”
Following up every 6 months, Berry, who by this stage in his life had become an avid car collector himself but was consistently told by Hamilton, “no.”
Then one day out of the blue, Berry received the message he had been waiting for: “I am ready to sell the Olds…I have another person that would like to purchase the car but have not encouraged him at all because of your longtime desire.”
Simply put, Berry was ecstatic.
Driving six hours from his home in Union, Kentucky to Hamilton’s home in Rapid City, Michigan, Berry and Hamilton transacted the sale.
Now that the car is in his possession, Berry said, in all the years since losing her, Berry said, he has never felt closer to his mother.
“When I walk by that car, I talk to it like it’s my mom,” he said, pausing to wipe a tear. “In a way, it feels like she is with me again.”
Berry, now a grandparent, is looking forward to being able to drive his children and grandchildren in the backseat with the windows down turning a mundane ride to the grocery store feel like a special occasion — just like his mother did.
Source: Washington Post