Dad worked as a limo driver six days a week. However, when someone called in sick, or we needed the extra money for my braces or to repair the leaky roof above the garage, then Dad would take the overtime and lose his one day off. Dad is the hardest working person I have ever known. He was never late to work, that I know of, and rarely called in sick. I remember one time he had the flu and he was sitting at the kitchen table with his hands over his eyes. He looked so pale and exhausted. Mom called in sick for him and helped him back to bed. At first, he tried to fight her, but gave up quickly and allowed her to help him back to their room. The next day dad was back at the kitchen table. He still looked pale and exhausted, but at least he could hold his head up without it looking like it was going to fall off.
Dad instilled a great work ethic not through his words, but truly through his actions. I don’t remember a time that I didn’t think my dad was the greatest man alive. I still do. He loved my mom and I, and always provided for us. I always feel safe when my dad is around. Even though dad is now retired, has snow white hair, and carries a cane, I still feel like he is my greatest protector. I know that may sound silly to some at my age, but it’s true. On the rare Sundays when dad didn’t have to do chores or work around the house, he would take mom and I on these glorious drives. Dad knew all of the great picnic areas, parks, and lookout points. I never understood how dad could stand driving us around after driving 6 days a week for work, but he loved it.
I remember my dad in the driver’s seat wearing his gigantic sunglasses with a big smile on his face, listing to mom singing along to the radio, and me watching the cars pass by, making up grand stories of where everyone was traveling. Dad said he enjoyed being out and about whether it was in the city, suburbs, or the country. This is why I have been dreading today. Today, I am taking away dad’s car keys. Unfortunately, his eyesight and perception have gotten worse over the past year, and there is nothing more the doctors can do. The conversation with dad about not driving anymore was heartbreaking. Dad sat there with a knowing look on his face and sadness in his eyes. I held it together until we finally agreed on today’s date and then I started balling. There I was, taking this beautiful man’s freedom, and he ended up comforting me that rainy afternoon.
I am meeting dad at the house at 9 am and he is going to take me on our last Sunday drive. I promised I would continue our tradition, but we both knew it wouldn’t be the same. I finished packing our lunch, grabbed my purse and keys, and started walking to the front door. I stopped at the entry wall and gazed at the photo of my dad standing in front of our old Chevy. He had the same boisterous look on his face and gigantic sunglasses sitting on top of his head. Dad was holding mom is his arms and I stood in front of them squinting because the sun was so bright with a funny grin on my face.
I wish mom was here to join us on our last drive. Mom passed away from a heart attack over 7 years ago. She went to bed and never woke up. The doctor said it was painless, but that still didn’t ease our grief. I remember the first drive we took after mom died. It was awkward sitting in the front seat. That was always mom’s spot. It didn’t feel right to be there. I wanted to be in my normal seat, right behind my dad. I never thought that I would have to take the keys away from the man that raised me; the man that taught me to drive. I took one last look at the photo and forced myself out the front door.