I spoke with my dad on the phone last night. He asked me if I remember the first time I drove on a Mother’s Day Sunday. I thought back to my learning-to-drive days as a young teenager, but that was not the time frame he was remembering. He began telling me a story that I’ve heard many times, but do actually remember parts of myself.
My dad reminisced about that Sunday morning long ago when he took me along to a little farm our family owned on a country highway, to cut some roses for my mother. I accompanied him on the short trip, sitting next to him on the long bench-like front seat. I was probably four-years-old.
When we arrived at the farm and turned into the graveled driveway, my dad decided that it would be easier and quicker work if he went and cut the flowers while I sat in the car. I sure didn’t mind that because I would hold onto the steering wheel and pretend to drive while I watched him meander up the drive into the farm yard to retrieve the roses.
Evidently, on this Sunday morning, I decided that simply holding on to the large steering wheel wasn’t realistic enough pretending and I decided to grab the gear shift on the steering wheel column. I moved the gear shift into neutral and the car that my dad had left in park began backing down the narrow driveway toward the highway.
My father heard the crunching sound of rubber tires rolling over gravel and looked up to see his black and white car with his four-year-old at the wheel moving away from him. I was thrilled to have the car moving, never recognizing any danger whatsoever and then happy to see my daddy running to meet me.
Thankfully, the wheels on the car had been turned, so the car was not going to roll too far and my daddy ran really fast I thought to get to me. My dad stopped the car, opened the driver’s side door and scooped up his little girl.
I’m sure my dad breathed a sigh of relief and maybe even a prayer of thanks, but I was none the worse for wear; excited that I had gotten the car to move all by myself.
My father mentioned in our phone conversation that he doubted I would remember, but often during my childhood years, he would take me along for the ride when he had to go somewhere. But, I do remember. I remember that some of my favorite times were sitting alongside my dad, riding in his Chrysler or Dodge sedan or later in his Jeep truck, running an errand for my mom or him going to check on some of his business matters. It wasn’t that the errand missions were exciting. Sometimes I would end up sitting in the passenger seat waiting on my dad to finish a conversation with one of his friends or business acquaintances, for what seemed like a short eternity to a kid. But, that really didn’t bother me…it was a small price to pay to go riding with my dad.