Friday, November 30, 2012

Beep beep, beep beep, yeah

I was never the kid in school who couldn’t wait to drive.  The thought of commanding a machine on a road with all those other machines on the road wasn’t my idea of a good time.  Anyway, I knew my parents could not buy me a car, and my friends did have cars, so there was no pressure on me to drive.  When I finally did get my license when I was sixteen I either drove my mother’s giant green car, whatever it was, or begged and borrowed my sisters’ and brother’s cars.

One of my first trips on the road alone was to the Pizza Hut to pick up an order.  I got to drive my brother’s green, 1970-ish Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme with its white roof and white interior.  Maybe I was so dazzled by all that funkiness, or maybe I was nervous to be on my own, but whatever the reason I left the food on the roof and drove off.  Luckily I didn’t go far before realizing it so my food was saved, though my dignity was bruised.  

My sister, the pesky one, drove an old car from the era of fine cars of the 1940s (or was it 1950s?) with the shift on the column, so she never had to worry about me wanting to drive her car.  I wasn’t embarrassed by the car by any means, but the shifting was too intimidating.

The oldest of my family, my dearly departed sister, had a 1967-ish red Chevrolet Malibu.  Its steering wheel was as big as a bicycle tire, and it only had AM radio, and like the song, it was “as big as a whale”.  There was no power steering so to turn the wheels took some muscle.  Needless to say I loved that car and I drove it whenever and wherever she allowed.  I remember driving it in high school to the fire hall where my class met to decorate our homecoming float. There were about six of us in the front seat.  Great car.  My sister always told me she would give it to me one day, but then she had a baby, and for some senseless reason she thought her little girl should have it instead.  Sheesh.  I make a habit of reminding my niece about that as often as I can; like right now.

There was one more car I sometimes had a chance to drive.  It was like the icing on the cake when my sister, the middle child, would generously grace me with the pleasure of driving her 1980-ish dark red Honda Prelude.  It had a sun-roof.  What an invention!  It had a stereo system!  It was a two-door dream machine with a tiny steering wheel.  I could do a U-turn that would make any momma proud.  Once, whilst driving it with my oldest friend and travelling partner in the seat next to me I didn’t turn quite sharp enough and I almost hit a light pole in front of John’s Car Care, but shhh, don’t tell the middle child.  What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.

I credit the joy of driving that Prelude, and Just What I Needed blasting on the stereo, with filling me with courage and decision to get my ears pierced.  Come to think of it that might have been the night of the light pole incident.  The excitement of it all was overwhelming.

Alas, I was not to own a Prelude, or a Cutlass, or a Malibu.  When I was a freshman in college my parents finally did buy me a car of my own.  It was a 1973 blue Mercury Comet that reeked of cigarette smoke. “Oh, we can get that out”, my mother said (or something like that).  No.

 My daddy paid $500 for it in 1985, and I drove it for about six years until a paving truck hit it and bashed in the side door.  I got $600 retribution for the door and a dealership gave me $500 for a trade-in.  That was probably the most productive financial investment my daddy ever made.  Well, actually if you call it a financial investment then it was the ONLY financial investment my daddy ever made.

I traded the Comet for a Mitsubishi Mirage which was a joy for me, but my baby son hated to ride in, then to a Chevrolet van which my baby son loved to ride in, to a Toyota Avalon, which my baby son now drives himself.  So here I come full circle, needing a new vehicle of my own.

I truly enjoy my Toyota, so I’ve been looking at them, but the memories of that Honda Prelude have lingered all these years.  I want once again to sit in the seat behind that tiny steering wheel, and feel that feeling only a Honda provides.  It’s a feeling of self-assuredness, clear thinking, and the ability to make important decisions as quickly as it takes to make a precise U-turn in a single rotation of that tiny wheel.  

Toyota or Honda.  Decisions, decisions.  

Today I offer thanks and appreciation to my husband, who nudged me into a decision by telling me to go drive a car he had been watching at a dealership where he does work.  After five minutes or five miles, whichever is shorter, behind the tiny steering wheel, I said, yes, sure, I can drive it and be happy.  Whatever (yawn, sigh).  I had to play it down, you know.  Cool on the outside, singing The Cars on the inside.  The ink is dry, and I am now the title holder of a Honda of my very own.  It’s a family friendly CRV, not a devil-may-care model like the Prelude; practicality won out over reliving my youth.  Nevertheless, it is Just What I Needed.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


It is the day before Thanksgiving, and since I am hosting the meal tomorrow I have spent the day making preparations.  I’ve been cleaning and cooking and listening to music to make the work more pleasant.  I’ve also been thinking about what I am thankful for, so I thought I would make a list.  So, here are a few things, more like several things, for which I am thankful.  These things are not listed any particular order, just the way they pop into my head.

My family.  I have a husband who is kind, loving, and has stuck with me even if sometimes I’m not; my boys for not complaining too much when I play my music too loud, sing too loud, and drive too fast.

My house. I have a roof over my head, a floor under my feet and a comfortable bed.  Millions of people in this world don’t have even these things.

Books. I’ve met some of my favorite people in the pages of books.  To paraphrase Dumbledore, just because they are in my head it doesn’t mean they aren’t real.  I count that sentiment towards the characters in books, too.

Music. It keeps me going when I want to stop.

Words.  I may say few, but I think many.

Spandex.  I need the extra stretch now and then.  Mostly now.

Tide Pods.  Just throw it in.  You don’t even have to measure.

iPods.  See “Music” above.

Chocolate.  See “Music” above.

Vacuum cleaners.  I hate sweeping.

Sparkly things. They make me happy.

Back scratchers.  I especially like my metal fork-like one that has a telescoping handle.

My cats. They remind me of my Daddy.

My dog. She loves me more than life itself.

Sisters. They remind me of my Mama.

Brothers. They make me laugh and toughened me up.  And despite their best efforts they remind me of my Daddy.  They’re like cats that way.

Cole Porter. Without him there would be no Night and Day.  See “Music” above.

The Holy Trinity.  God the Father who created me, God the Son who lived like me, and God the Holy Spirit to whom I need to pay more attention.

Jimmy Daniels.  He didn’t mind the kid sister hanging around, and if he did he didn’t show it.

My closest friends.  They know me the best and accept me as I am.

My friends who have drifted in and out over the years.  They may not know it but I carry a bit of them with me always. 

This list could go on for pages and pages, but that would be boring and no one would read beyond about 500 words.  So I will leave it here, but know I am thankful for life, and in my heart of hearts I do not take one day for granted, even if it seems like I do sometimes because I like to take naps.  I’m like cats that way.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

It takes one to know one

A few days ago I was having a talk with my son which ended in me hugging him good-night and telling him how much I loved him.  “I love you more than you know”, I said.  Then it hit me.  At that moment I truly understood the love a parent has for their child.  And if I felt that way about my child, then my parents surely felt that way about me.

It’s not that I ever felt my parents did not love me, but I often felt I was more of a nuisance to them than anything; underfoot and in the way.  I was the last of seven children, with the former baby of the family being six years older than me.  I was the afterthought when the oldest children were moving into their teenage years.  My mother was 39 years older than me.  My father was 47 when I was born, nearly the same age I am now.  They were tired, and I don’t blame them for being so.

My parents were not outwardly affectionate towards each other or towards their children.  It's not that they did not have a loving spirit, it's just they didn't express it in a touchy-feely way. When I became too big to be carried the greatest show of affection I received from my daddy was a light thump on my head or jiggle of my earlobe.  My mother explained to me once how that was his way of being affectionate.  It was like an “a-ha” moment for me.  From then on I had a better understanding and appreciation for the thumps and jiggles.

Just as we children were growing into our own independence, our grandmothers declined into dependence.  The nursery turned into a nursing home, and caring for their aging mothers made my parents, especially my mother, really, really tired.  

All of this is beginning to sound like a “woe is me, my parents didn’t love me” story, but like I said I never felt that way.  I had three sisters and three brothers who filled any voids I may have otherwise felt.

As I was saying, a revelation was handed to me the other night when I hugged my son.  How could I have ever doubted my parents’ love for me?  Parental love is an innate emotion as natural as breathing.  A parent’s love for their child is so deeply rooted in their soul it can cause them physical pain when their child is hurting. 

Through my love for my children I feel my parents’ love for me.  I also feel God's love for me.  If I hurt when my children hurt, imagine how strong God’s love is for us.  What does He feel when we are hurting? 

I’m beginning to understand things better now.