My sister and I got stuck in a traffic jam a couple of days ago and of course we griped a bit about how people drive which led to talking about how Dad drove. Dad loved to drive. No seriously, Dad LOVED to drive! We were talking about how Dad drove straight through, any distance withstanding any conditions to get to our destination. He taught us to keep our eye on the end goal.
There were times we’d be whining in the back seat begging Dad to stop for the biggest ball of string or whatever roadside attraction we had just passed but he drove on. We’d wish for a break to stretch our legs, beg for a bathroom stop, whine for something to drink and Dad drove on; explaining we’d just have to wait till the next place to stop. He taught us patience.
The weird thing about Dad driving was he’d blow right past most attractions but, almost always stopped for roadside markers. There’s no explaining why Dad didn’t want to see the biggest ball of string but would stop on a dime for a road marker stating that someone we couldn’t possibly have known, did something important on that spot at a time we couldn’t relate to. My sister and I laughed and laughed about how when Dad would decide to stop at one of these historical markers we’d roll our eyes and feign paying attention to Dad’s enthusiasm for these markers. Dad taught us to appreciate the effort of others.
With a large family; 5 kids in the 1960’s on a mechanic’s wages, it was always good to find something free to entertain the tribe. So, being a diesel mechanic Dad talked with a lot of over-the-road drivers about things to do with the kiddos. He would hear of someplace that struck his fancy, was inexpensive or free then off we’d go. Sometimes it was a Saturday jaunt; sometimes it was part of a planned vacation but, always it was entertaining. Dad taught us to look in unusual places for experiences to enrich our lives.
Sunday afternoons were often a day for joy riding; Dad’s explanation for getting in the car with no destination in mind, just driving. Sometimes it was just an hour, some times several hours but, we all come home with a different view on what we saw. As the oldest, my brother and I often got to choose the direction we drove but, Dad decided what roads to take. There was no map, no plan, no way of knowing where we’d end up but it was fun. Dad taught us to look for and enjoy spontaneity.
I think my favorite memory of Dad driving was going to Springfield Illinois. Dad relatives in Springfield always had the welcome mat out and we went there often when it was just the three of us older kiddos. Looking back, I think it was a way for us to get away for a little break without any large expense. Dad came home from work on a Friday night, we ate a quick dinner, then got into our jammies while Mom made a bed in the back of our big old Buick Roadmaster; now that was a car! And what a time in life when we could bed down in the back of a car screaming down I-57 at 80mph on a Friday night going to visit relatives in Springfield! He made sure we knew our extended family. Dad taught us to take pleasure in family.
My Dad left us four years ago on Father’s Day. We all thought it very fitting that a man who so loved his family and truly enjoyed being a Dad should check out on Father’s Day. So on this day when America honors fathers, I choose to remember my Dad and his driving efforts to make my moral code what it is today. Thanks Dad.
Happy Father’s Day