We were travelling down to the station this morning when I realized my mind was working on something in the deep background. This week, like many other families everywhere, we deliver a child to college. His being our third makes this delivery no easier than his initial entrance into this world, albeit we are so much richer for his presence these 18 years. This fall our nest count drops again: once 4, then to 3, then to 2, and now, down to one.
As I watched the road rise, I thought about how much he’d like a car on campus. He’s been particularly patient on this front, not really able to squeeze in driving lessons during his demanding high school years, and now actually procuring the license is still on the family To Do list. I wish I could provide him and his sister a car, or perhaps I mean the sweet freedom a car gives us.
Although I can’t provide that car right now, the thought of one transported me back to the first family car on which I was allowed to cut my driving teeth. “Betsy” was akin to an armored tank: a 1966 or so Chevy four door sedan with no power anything: no steering, no brakes, nothing. Talk about the “hand over hand” turning of the wheel? To round a turn, I lifted off my seat and threw most of my body weight into the execution. You could feel the mass of that car rumbling over the miles of railroad tracks that laced the city. You were on your own and flying, well, at least moving , free.
So here, in 2011, as I recalled tanking around in that tan toned, not quite behemoth auto, I wondered again how my dad managed to provide us with a car AND one that we would have had a hard time breaking. He sent us off with as much confidence as he could muster in our driving skills AND knowing there wasn’t much we could do to that car. But life is funny: as fast as I had that thought here, today, I realized that while keeping the car safe was a hope, of his, the reason we had that strong car wasn’t primarily because it was precious. Dad got us that car because to him, what the car carried was precious.
Dad’s been gone five years this summer, but I daresay there are real-time moments now when he’s telling me something I still need to know. Thanks, Dad.