My dad was a good driver. A great one, in fact. In good weather, or bad, he could drive with the best of them.
I never worried about traffic, with my dad. I never fretted about bad weather, with my dad. He was ALWAYS calm, while driving, in bad weather. He taught me how to be calm, as well.
My dad taught me how to drive. Good yikes, that’s another story for another day…..whew….sorry dad….
Dad showed me how to position my hands, on the wheel. Talked to me about being focused, ALWAYS looking ahead. He taught me how to drive between the lines, how and when to use my turn signals. He taught me how to be a ‘defensive driver’, taking others poor driving, into account, as well as my own.
Dad taught me the rules of the road, the dangers of the vehicle I wielded. He taught me how to change the oil, how to change the tires. He taught me enough to keep me out of trouble, how to get out of a small bit of trouble, if need be.
Once he taught me the basics, dad tossed me the keys and let me take the wheel on out of town trips. Yikes! Scary times. Exhilarating times!!
Dad let me start out slow. I didn’t have to worry about getting gas. I didn’t have to worry about reading the map. I didn’t have to worry about packing snacks and needed things, for the trip. The only thing asked of me was to keep both hands on the wheel, keep focused and looking forward, paying attention to other drivers and my actions, and, above all, keeping the car between the yellow lines!
Initally, I was always good. I could handle minor traffic. I wasn’t scared of small cars. But, the semis.
THE SEMIS! Those big trucks used to scare the holy goodness out of me. I wanted, desperately, for dad to take over. He wouldn’t. He just told me to ‘keep up with the traffic’ and would let me deal with the terror of those big trucks.
Eventually, I could handle driving among the big boys. In fact, I began enjoying weaving in and out, driving with the flow of traffic. I felt like such a big girl. I was driving, yall!! When dad saw that I was no longer afraid of the semis, he taught me how to drive with them. He showed me how to keep most of the rain and wind, from rocking our tiny car, by being right behind the semi.
“Don’t lose their headlights!”. Dad would ALWAYS yell this to me, when driving at night. During the daylight, he would counsel me. He would share with me how important it was to stay up on the tail lights so I could see.
The first time I lost the headlights and the darkness rose up to swallow all sight….egads….*shiver*…was terrifying. Dad refused to take over. He made me keep driving, terrified, in the darkness. He would just tell me to keep on driving until I caught some new headlights.
I had never prayed harder to see headlights, in all my life. And, please don’t lose those bad boys when it is dark AND raining! Whew!! Still, dad would not take over driving. He would just tell me to drive until I caught up with some headlights and make sure to keep up with the flow of traffic so as not to lose them again.
Eventually, I would find some headlights. I can promise you, I refused to turn loose of those headlights! I followed those bad boys until they turned off the exit. By that time, I was smart enough to have my next set of headlights in sight. That way, I could confidently slide behind and keep driving.
All the while, dad sat silently, letting me learn. I learned to drive, through all types of weather and times of day. Rain, snow, sleet….sleet scared me, intense sunshine, pitch black darkness. Through all those things dad trusted ME, to drive. Felt good. Being trusted.
Being trusted, though…..man, that can also bring a bit of fear along, with it. Now, I was responsible for my safety, for dad’s safety. I was responsible for keeping the car between the yellow lines. I was in charge of our speed, going the right way. Being trusted, yea, being trusted comes with all kinds of responsibility.
I thank my dad for allowing me to learn, for showing me I could be trusted. For, allowing ME to know that I COULD do it. I could do it!!
Once I had earned dad’s trust, had earned my own, dad started to expect more of me. I was expected to know what to bring. I had to fill up the car. I had to read the map and get us where we needed to go.
Before I had earned dad’s trust, he would let me drive and would pretend he was either sleeping, or not paying attention. But, the first time I had drifted too far off the road, and felt that terrifying sound of grooves reminding me to get back on the road, dad would reach over and steer the car back on the road. After I would get my heart out of my throat, he would take his hand off the wheel and let me keep on keeping on. He didn’t yell at me. Just reminded me to keep the car within the yellow line.
Eventually, I earned his respect enough where he actually trusted me and would take a nap or two. I was so proud to be driving, humming to music, slouching proudly and half low, in my seat. I no longer sat stiff and upright, terrified that I would end up in a ditch.
As I leaned on dad’s teaching, on my experience, on all the times I had arrived safely, I began to enjoy the long drives. I looked forward to them. Each time, I got to prove something, to myself, to my dad. I got to find out how much I had inside. I got to fight through fear and come out the winner. I was able to drive, semi alone, dreaming of a future when I had my own car, when I was full grown and living life and would be able to go where ever and whenever I chose.
Today, when going on a trip, I confidently pack the car, gas up and hit the road. I have NO fear of getting to my destination. I KNOW I will get there. I have done so, a million times. First, with dad, in the car. Then, grown, remembering dad’s teaching and leaned on those things.
At first, it was hard. Driving alone. Driving long distances, by myself. I would sit upright, clutching the wheel in semi terror. I would turn the radio off and pay close attention. Eventually, I would calm myself. How? By remembering all the times I had driven before. I would think of all dad’s teaching. I remembered his confidence, in ME. And, his confidence, giving me confidence, helped me to keep going. Until I got my driving sea legs.
I value driving times, now. I savor those memories of learning my way. Of meeting fear, head on. Of conquering that fear. I had NO idea what was inside of me, until I had to find out, what was inside of me.
I use that confidence in everything, now. I remind myself: stay between the yellow lines of life, keep within the flow of traffic, don’t lose the headlights(Life and God). By God, keep up with the headlights!
I remind myself to keep going: rain or shine, keep going Cassandra! Tough times or good times, keep on dancing and keep on keeping on. You WILL get to your destination. Relax, girl, you got this!
Turn up the music. Rejoice. Do a nice car jig, sing badly, but keep on driving. Keep on going!
Dad is in the car, with you. God and Life, are sitting there, on the passenger side, silently trusting you to keep on going. Both WILL reach over, as needed, to gently course correct.
You got this! Put on your cool shades, pack for your journey, and get a move on!
You have NO idea what’s inside of you, until you find out what’s inside of you.
I dare you to find out!
Ready? Set? Drive!!
You CAN do this. You WILL do this!