I love my dad. He’s done wonderful and loving things for my family and me. He’s provided for me my entire life without asking or demanding anything in return. Except that I work hard, play fair, and finish the food on my plate even if I don’t like it.
My parents taught me to be grateful, graceful, and obedient. At times I wasn’t one or two of them. Okay…at times I wasn’t all three of them. Overtime these values became easier to abide by and I’m grateful for the lessons.
But the one time I find it difficult to keep it in check with my dad is when I’m behind the wheel of the car, and he’s in the passenger seat. There, even though I’m well into my 50’s, have been an auto racer, a driving instructor, and a stunt driver, he still treats me like I’m fifteen.
Recently I went back east to celebrate my parents’ 60th anniversary. All of the family had gathered at their home, and one afternoon Dad asked me to drive him to pick up lunch for the group.
I was concerned that the peacefulness of the weekend was about to be broken. “Can’t someone else take you?”
“Because anytime you’re the passenger, you drive me crazy.”
He laughed. “Nooooo. What do I do?”
He did what he’s always done, starting with the speed bumps.
“See those bumps?”
“I see ’em.”
“You can damage the car going over them too fast.”
“I’m only going five miles an hour.”
“Well…slow down anyway.”
“Might be faster if we walk to the deli.”
We came the electronic gate to which he pointed. “Make sure that gate goes up before you drive through it.” He proudly looked away, as if he was bestowing some great wisdom.
I just looked at him. Slowly turning to look out the front window, I got back to the task at hand: which was to maintain control of the car…along with my sanity.
We pulled onto the boulevard and he nodded toward a car creeping past. “Look both ways…cars zip around here.”
“Don’t go too fast…cops are always around here.”
“Speed limit says 40…I’m only doing 35.”
“Well, there’s no rush.”
Sometimes I feel that if I go any slower while driving Dad, I’d be moving backwards.
He stomped on his imaginary brake in the passenger seat. “See that?”
“No, what?” I asked nervously, thinking I had hit something, or someone.
“Car was merging back there…gotta give him room.”
“Dad, that was a parked car…nobody was in it.”
“Oh. Well you never know when they might pull out of there.”
True. Half a year later I still don’t know.
And so it went. Dad pointing out obstacles that even a Driver’s Ed teacher would ignore. Thing is, I’d drive to all ends of the earth to see and take care of my dad. But driving to the deli with him? Gives me indigestion.