Life is a journey that we all travel. We choose our own paths and our own way. Dad, he chose to drive.
Born in a town nicknamed “The City of Go,” he started young, flying down the hill of his midwestern home town in his wagon or on his sled. He drove tractors and hale balers on his brother-in-law’s farm. He drove for the goal line on his high school football team. He drove for the basket, too. He learned to play drums and loved the driving beat.
Like many young men of his era, he left his hometown and drove west seeking new opportunities. He started small, washing the trucks that other men drove in order to provide for his young family. Then he found an opportunity in sales where his sunny personality and drive to succeed could flourish.
He was promoted to outside sales and proudly drove home in his shiny new company car. He spent his work days driving from customer to customer, telling jokes, making friends, and then driving home.
He sat us on his lap and let us drive around the parking lot.
He piled us in the car every other summer to drive home to that small midwestern town. He made travel fun, singing and drumming on the steering wheel. He taught us to read maps and calculate how far we could get in a day. He taught us to love the road. He taught us to make good time. We learned there was nowhere in life we couldn’t go.
He drove us to the beach. He drove us to slumber parties and drove us home again. He drove me and my friends to our first junior high dance. Three different times he drove us to the hospital for stitches. Whatever activities we had going on, whether it was hauling gear for a Girl Scout camping trip or bringing the card tables for a bake sale, his first question was always, “Do you need a ride?”
He taught us to drive, too. It wasn’t always easy, but he let us choose our own route and make our own way.
He drove to weddings and graduations. He drove to visit friends and family. When I was 48, starting over, and moving across country by myself, Dad came with me. He drove, of course.
And Dad continued to drive. He drove riding mowers. He drove golf balls. Even after he retired, he took a part-time job driving people home from the car dealership. He sometimes drove us crazy, but more often he drove us to uncontrollable laughter.
Today, Dad went on the final road trip of this life. We don’t know how long it will be until we see him again, but we know that when we do he’ll have the route all mapped out and will be there to give us a ride.