Dad's and Dirt Roads

Dads and dirt roads go together as much as ice cream and cones. I was reminded of this today as I drove down the boulevard in my daughter’s dream car-an old 1978 El Camino. Like a familiar smell, looking over the square hood of this 70’s vehicle prompted the memory of an early driving lesson down a long deserted dirt road. I can remember my dad’s gruff Georgia-boy accent as he advised me to keep my bearings by using the line that went straight down the middle of the hood. I was puzzled by the way it seemed I was taking up too much of the road, but my dad calmly reassured me that if I could just use that center line to align my position within the road, I would not end up on the shoulder. So, I listened carefully as I gave the big square beast too much gas and then too much brake the entire time. It seems as if that event wasn’t so long ago. I can remember his wrinkled eyes with that ever-present sense of mischief dancing just behind the surface like it was yesterday. Now, my father was not a very patient man under most circumstances; quite the opposite in fact. However on this day, my father sat back calmly and patiently as if he’d anticipated this event for a very long time. The thought of his calm demeanor that day made me think about how we measure our lives by these right-of-passage events. I remember being flooded with images of firsts when my own children were just tiny. I’d imagine their first steps, their first day of school, their first bike ride, their first date, and of course, their first driving lesson. I wonder if these were the thoughts that went though his mind that day. My husband gave our own children similar lessons. In fact, our open field has served as a great driving test track. Once an orchard, later a go cart track, and most recently a driving course, the little area served to help train my kids in this important right-of-passage. Many dirt roads and driving lessons later, both of my children can handle their own in the car and the state of California agreed-at least for one of them so far. Now the only firsts left for my children are the ones that leave them a little farther from my arms, but no farther from my heart. I have been so blessed to see them grow. I’m so grateful for dads, dirt roads, and fond memories too.

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