The other day I went to see “The Art of Racing in the Rain”. At first, I was not sure why I wanted to see it. I hate driving cars, especially in the rain. Just ask anyone who has had the misfortune of driving with me. I am also not overly fond of Dogs. I despise being headbutted and sniffed by my daughter’s overly affectionate Pitbull or any dog not named Boots (he is OK).
So why did I absolutely love this movie about a racing car driver, his family, and his Dog Enzo? And why did I cry a river of tears when (spoiler alert) both the driver’s dog and his wife died? A bit because I am the ultimate sap! I punch my fist in the air when Mr. Smith saves the boy scout camp and weep at every Walton episode. But this was something more. Then I realized. The movie reminded me of my Brother David, his love of cars, his recently departed wife Debra, and their dogs – Alvin, Jasmine, Zooey.
David has loved cars ever since he was a little kid. One of the most memorable events of my childhood (and one that haunts my dreams) is when David, I, and Gary were waiting for my parents in the station wagon to go on a trip. David all of 4 years old sat in the front seat. Suddenly, he switched into the driver’s seat, shifted the car in neutral and started steering the car like a crazy man. My brother and I were helpless as the car backed down our sloped driveway. We drifted down the hill across a major road (safely thank God) and ended up in the neighbor’s front yard across the street. My parents rushed out to get us and I will never forget the joy in David’s face or terror in the eyes of my brother and me!
Terror was also in my eyes every time I drove with David. He treats the Houston highway like the Daytona 500. My heart races as he passes cars, barely missing the bumper. I in contrast drive like the future Grandpop I aspire to be. He has translated his love for cars into a career as a truck driver. He can drive the biggest rig with speed and precision. He was a lot like Denny, the movie’s lead, except he drove trucks instead of cars.
Also, like Denny, David loves dogs. In this, he is like his namesake, Uncle David. Both love Dogs with a passion I cannot fathom. Uncle David currently has 8 and David 4. They bring them both joy and I never realized why. The dogs yap and yip. Not my cup of tea. Until the movie showed me why – Dogs are more empathetic than people. They can realize when you are hurting and give you just what you need to race through the rain and not crash into the wall of life.
In the movie, Enzo the dog helps Denny deal with the premature parting of his wife Eve. Enzo realizes the signs of Eve’s impending death and helps Denny and Eve deal with her illness and eventual passing. Eve is like my Sister-In-Law Debra who was afflicted with various neurological and eventually led to her passing two weeks ago. You can read more about Debra’s passing in this link. http://obituaries.acremation.com/o/grier/44141/?fbclid=IwAR13i5PLQAHaRBC57t9KCHuu0ZcY4DzbH95BjYpVd7iZS7ql-umZeC3nu6I
Enzo kept Denny whole by driving with him as the rain pulsed down. Likewise, David and Debra shared the latest antics of Alvin, Jasmine, Zooey, and Cuddles. David would make Debra’s eyes twinkle with his imitation of the dog’s barking for Debra’s return. The dogs also helped my brother to be strong for his wife through unconditional love.
In closing, there are two quotes from the book/movie that really resonate with me. This one is a quote from the movie. “If a driver controls his own conditions, then the rain is only rain”. David through his dog imitations and frequent Facebook posts worked to control the uncontrollable. In so doing, my younger brother taught me a lesson of how to keep strong through the storm.
The last quote is from the mind of Enzo the dog. It is so poignant and meaningful I cannot do it justice. To me it will always mark the moment that Debra passed and reveals the true nature of her kind soul.
“I saw her soul leave her body as she exhaled, and then she had no more needs, no more reason; she was released from her body, and, being released, she continued her journey elsewhere, high in the firmament where soul material gathers and plays out all the dreams and joys of which we temporal beings can barely conceive, all the things that are beyond our comprehension, but even so, are not beyond our attainment if we choose…”
Tonight, before you go to bed be like Enzo, David, Debra and their dogs. Race on through the rain and love unconditionally. Turn away from the wall and toward new life through love!