On my last solo car trip of over a thousand miles, I listened to big band, classic country, and what I call western country music. My father enjoyed such music, too, and I thought of him on my trip.
“Turn the wheel. You’re going to hit the barn!” I did–hit the barn–just as Daddy, from his seat on the tractor fender, slammed his booted foot down on top of my eight-year-old barefoot, and smashed it between the metal brake pedal and his boot. “You’ll do fine next time,” he said.
“You can drive us home from Grandma’s. Now, remember, don’t close your eyes on the narrow bridge. You’ll do fine,” he said. I was almost twelve.
“Take this truck load of wheat to town. Just put it in low, ease up on the clutch slowly, and give it some gas. Don’t hit the sides of the elevator or the next truck in line. Don’t roll back into the truck behind you, either. You’ll do fine,” he said. I was sixteen.
At twenty, he had me drive a large, flatbed truck. “You’ll do fine,” he said.
I’d like to once again drive with my dad–I would do fine.
It was a dark and stormy night…well, not really stormy, but it was dark. I was at least an hour from home, yet I remained attentive to my driving and watchful for deer alongside the highway. Still, my mind raced with tasks I wanted to accomplish the following day.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a notepad or pen in the seat beside me to jot down my “todo” list. So, I first focused on the first word of each task, then on the first letter of that word. If I remembered those, I could remember what I needed to accomplish the following day.
After forty or fifty minutes of mentally organizing the tasks in my mind and memorizing the letters of the alphabet representing those tasks, I arrived home. I hurried inside and quickly scribbled the letters on an old newspaper. Exhausted, I fell into bed and a deep sleep.
The next morning, I discovered my note–IWPBJ. What did those letters mean? Finally, I remembered my chores–but not before I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. After all, wouldn’t “I want peanut butter and jelly” be the first thought of anyone upon seeing the letters IWPBJ?
“What are you kids doing?” I called from my cozy spot on the couch to my grandchildren in the backyard.
“We’re working on our habitat project,” they answered in unison.
How wonderful, I thought. These young children had apparently studied about the Habitat for Humanity program at school. Warm thoughts filled my heart as I thought of them working to improve lives. After an hour or two of quietness on the part of the kids, though, I thought I should check on their activities.
“Look, Nana, we’ve made a home for our pet worms,” said one young girl as she handed me a plate of mud.
Hmmm…well, yes, I guess they were building a habitat. However, “making mud pies” as an answer might have caused me to go outside and actually see what they were doing. It might have made doing laundry a little easier the next day, too.
Oh, by the way, earthworms have a very short life span when out of their natural “habitat.”
My barefooted childhood days are long gone. Now I might go barefooted around the house, at the pool, or on the beach, but for a normal day involving leaving the house, I wear shoes—two shoes, one on each foot. So, I don’t understand why I see so many sole shoes or boots along the highways I travel.
I do understand a passenger riding with his or her foot out the window. Such behavior is connected to comfort and boredom. If my shoe fell off, though, I would insist upon retrieving it. Apparently not everyone thinks about footwear the way I do.
I have traveled many a highway mile and on many of those miles, there has been a lone flip-flop, sandal, or other type of footwear. Last winter a brown leather shoe rested in the middle of the busiest intersection in my hometown for well over a month. Drivers and even the street sweeper carefully swerved around it.
A lone rubber boot appeared on the highway shoulder by my house last month. It’s still there. Should I rescue it? I wonder if those lost items of footwear somehow match up with the socks gone missing in washing machines? Oh, for answers….
John and I began a journey to Corpus Christie, Texas on August 17 and returned home August 23. We visited relatives and friends (who are safe) on our trip. We avoided most Interstates and drove through many small towns–their names we have now heard on the national news. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Texas. I wrote the below piece before the flood.
“I’ve decided to set as a goal eating ice cream in every state,” my grandchild said.
“What a great idea!!!” I said.
Why did I not think of that many, many years ago? While I’m hopeful I have many more travels in my future, I have surely missed some geographical opportunities to eat ice cream.
But thinking back, I remembered eating butter brickle ice cream in Chicago at the Navy Pier and lemon ice cream on a lawn in Kennebunkport, Maine. I remembered cookie dough ice cream in Estes Park, Colorado and cookies and cream ice cream in Sarasota, Florida. I recently had a chocolate and vanilla “twist” cone in Corpus Christie, Texas. There was that chocolate chip ice cream at my son’s home in Iowa and strawberry ice cream at my daughter’s home in Missouri. Oh yes, there was butter pecan ice cream on that long ago trip to New York and peppermint ice cream in Washington, D.C. And, that long, long ago senior trip involved numerous flavored ice creams in numerous states.
Then I remembered the number on the bathroom scale. So, it seems the evidence suggested I didn’t miss any ice cream opportunities….