When I was little, maybe 4 or 5, my parents bought me a Barbie Jeep. I drove it until the battery wouldn’t charge anymore. When I was 9, daddy would put me in his lap when he picked me up from the bus stop and let me steer his truck while he did the pedals on the way home. When I was 10, he let me drive out boat around Heber Springs. When I was 14 or so, he let me use the pedals and steer, around and around our property out in Arlington. When I was 16, he put me in his 1988 Mustang and showed me how to drive a stick shift.
My entire life has revolved around cars. Dad would put me in the bench seat of an old pickup and let me fall asleep there while me tinkered with his car in our shop out back. I don’t consciously remember a time when I DIDNT know the basics of operating a vehicle. When I look back over my 24 years on this earth, I see daddy teaching me how to drive.
But you see, he didn’t just teach my how to drive. He taught me how to be a good person, but to also stand up for myself. He taught me how to throw a softball, catch, bat, and change the oil and tires on a car. He taught me how to handle money, navigate the city of Memphis, and the difference between the different years in old muscle cars. He taught me to find a man that would take a bullet for family, and not to settle for someone who doesn’t love Jesus more than me, but will also take care of me because a man is the head of the household. He taught me my worth, how to fish, how to mow grass, and how to put together furniture.
He taught me that money doesn’t buy happiness, but having a safety net is necessary.
He taught me so many things, even though most of the time he thought I wasn’t listening. Well dad, I was. I was always listening. Because you’re my hero, the first man I loved, and my forever protector. We might not always get along, but you’re always there to listen.
Dad, you’ll never see this, but thank you. For showing up to dance recitals in time to see my solo and dance with me during the Daddy-Daughter dance and then leaving to mow the grass. For telling the same stories over and over again. For showing me where you grew up and talking about your dad, so that it feels like I knew him, too. And for loving me. Always. No matter how bad I messed up.
Thanks for teaching me how to drive.