My Dad could have been an Uber driver. I say “could have”, because by the time Uber became a “thing” in 2008, my father was already living in a Veteran’s home in Boise Idaho suffering from advanced dementia. He would die less than 3 years later at the age of 87. Although his dementia caused him to forget so much of what he once knew and even most of what he enjoyed (like eating and singing), he always remembered the cars he owned (and he owed at least 50 different cars in his lifetime, maybe more) and his love for driving. So much so that when he was living in an assisted living facility in Minnesota with Mom before she passed away, he attempted to commandeer one of the facility’s vans. The story he told the staff was that he needed to visit his sister Lynette in California. Crazy how the dementia diseased brain remembers bits and pieces of information at random while it forgets most of the important skills for daily living. Needless to say it wasn’t long after the van incident that he was transferred to a more secure memory impairment unit.
I learned very early of my father’s love for cars and driving. Dad loved to look at cars, both old and new, and thought nothing of test driving the newest models even though he knew they were impractical or too expensive. I remember several times when he would bring a car he was test driving (or perhaps even made a down payment on) by the house to show Mom only to have her insist he return the vehicle to from wherever it came. There were convertibles, sports cars, coups, and even a mini Fiat all which were surely unsuitable for our growing family of six. Still he was never discouraged and continued to check out the new models each fall. He could change his own oil and other minor maintenance, but I don’t recall him ever washing his own car, let alone doing repairs. Several of the jobs he held (and he held several over the course of his lifetime) involved driving and those were some of his favorite jobs. He drove a fuel truck at Lockheed, he delivered parts, he drove a church bus, he sold insurance for AAA, and he even drove a cab for a while. Uber would have been right in his wheelhouse. Especially the part where he could, in essence, be his own boss …having a boss being one of his least favorite things about working.
Alas, Uber wasn’t around when my dad was in his prime. But that didn’t stop him from driving just as often as he could, and loving every minute of it. When we were young, Sunday drives were a weekly tradition. We’d pile in the car and take off, often with no specific destination in mind. Just hitting the road to see what we could see. Dad would think nothing of driving almost non-stop to Minnesota, nearly 2000 miles away, to spend a week or two with my cousins in Roseau, Mom’s hometown for our summer vacation. I remember he had this label on his rear view mirror that was just a cryptic string of letters, DSBWOFC. It was his driving mantra, “Drive Safely But Watch Out For Cops”. I guess it should be no surprise that he also liked to drive fast.
Dad passed his love of driving on to me. Like my older sister and brother before me, my father happily accepted the task of teaching me to drive when I got my learner’s permit at 15 1/2. I easily passed my driving test on my 16th birthday. He also helped me to buy my first car, when I was a senior in high school and had a part-time job at a local burger shack. We drove down to Worthington Dodge in Los Angeles, where I picked out about the cheapest new car they had on the lot, a 1972 Pinto with a standard transmission. Even though I had never actually driven a stick shift, he gave me a few pointers and then trusted me to drive it back home (with him following closely behind). By the time I sold that car five years later I had put over 100,000 miles on it. Like father, like daughter. I still love to drive. Happy Father’s Day.