There are times in life when you have to say good-bye.

A recent family photo with the Blue Belle.

Our blue 2000 Chrysler Voyage Minivan finally died about a month and a half ago. The Blue Belle went with us hither and yon. To Texas, eastern Pennsylvania, Michigan, Missouri and all points in between.

She took many kids to youth group and on camping trips. There were times we had to over-stuff the poor girl. But she handled it all well.

We knew this day was coming though I lived in denial. My husband predicted her death for the last two years. I had told him to stop because she had surpassed so many of his deadlines. But, still, there were signs. A few years ago the hatchback stayed closed. Something was stuck deep inside and it was not going to open.

In the last year or so, the car would refuse to start, especially annoying when I had all of the kids with me. So I bought a wire brush to clean off the corrosion around the caps on the battery. That sort of helped.

When jumps from friendly strangers no longer worked, it was discovered a little shaking and pulling would click the starter back in place. Then magically, the car would start again. I even asked for a new starter for the girl as my anniversary gift.

But one morning, she wouldn’t start at all. The dashboard lights went on but nothing else happened. Shaking didn’t work. Jumping didn’t work. Nothing happened.

To be honest, we were wondering if one of the u-joints was going bad. There was problem with the brakes. It sounded as if new brake shoes were needed. Who knows if the various belts were about to go. We just knew it was time to say goodbye.

That's right! 324,007 Miles.

We had gotten a lot of use out of the Blue Belle despite her rusted-out parts and crack in the windshield.  We loved her even when the heat stopped working or when the air conditioning knew one temperature – artic cold.

We loved her for being able to hold all of our stuff.  For being able to separate kids and stop fights. Even when it was clear that her time was done, we still loved her. So we made the hard decision.

My husband took off the plates, I called the insurance company to take her off the rolls. We cleaned everything out, including the tollway transponder.  And then we called the Lung Association. They take cars for auction. The money goes to help their programs to help people stop smoking and kids with asthma.

Monday morning, before my husband drove me to work, we rolled it to the front parking space, made sure the paperwork and the keys were in the glove compartment. When my husband brought me home, it was gone. The oil stains are still there but the greatest car in our family has now gone.