Seeing The World In An 18 Wheeler

I was giving my brother Chad a ride to work today, and we came upon a semi-truck trying to back into a tight spot.  We stopped in the middle of the road to allow him a few minutes to navigate his large vehicle, and then we proceeded on.

Of course, with so many things this triggered a memory of my dad.

I remember once being in dad’s truck with him when he came through Rochester and not even remembering the specifics, I got a ride from dad.  I remember being in awe of the skill it takes to navigate these incredibly large objects, and I remember being more in awe of him backing into a tight spot as though he was backing out of a driveway.  I said as much and of course my dad mumbled something like, “it’s no big deal” in his humble way.  To me, it was an awe inspiring skill.

I giggle when thinking about how overwhelmed I am just driving my brothers truck!

Today, coming upon that semi-truck with my brother with also prompted me to remember that Chad had went with dad on some road trips.  Suddenly it warmed my heart to remember this.

Me:  You went on road trips with dad when you were little, right?

Chad: Yeah <man of the fewest words, irritating at times>

Me:  Do you remember them?

Chad:  Yeah <grrr, so frustrating to have a conversation with>

Me:  Do you remember where you all went?

Chad:  Yeah we went to California, Washington, Pennsylvania and I think one other place….

Me:  How old were you?

Chad:  I don’t know….

Me:  Nolan’s age now?

Chad:  Yeah probably third or fourth grade….

We road the rest of the way in silence.

I look back on that and I am so thankful that my add took the time to take Chad and Lonny on road trips with him.  Ally also went on a trip with dad to Oregon.  And Dawn has a funny story about when her and Owen moved back from Oregon to Minnesota when they were young.  We still laugh about that fiasco.  Long story short, Dad met them out there, and at first Owen tried to follow dad (he is the world’s worst driver, sorry Owen!), but he became so tired driving that dad decided to put their car in the back of his truck, and they road all the way home with dad!  To hear Dawn tell it though, so funny!  I love that memory!  And dad, so typical that he would want to be sure that his girl got home safely!

My dad was always busy, as it so often is for most of us. For him to have the time, or the money to travel with us was not realistic.  But yet, dad ensured that some of his kids, even with his limited means, still saw the world with him!  As I drove Chad the rest of the way to work, I hoped that our conversation sparked good memories for him of a time long ago.  

I also thought of mom.  If you know anything about my mom you know she was a worrier!  We called her “weather woman Shirley” because she was more accurate than the weather man most times, and often she would call us beckoning us to the basement as a tornado was just miles away (often I was oblivious to that ;-).  She worried about all of us hoping that each day we would be protected and secure.  For all the ways that I can be mom’s critic, I will say that she did love her children and she worried for us always.  I understand that, as I am the same with my own boys and that poor woman had MULTIPLE children to worry about (not to mention the grandkids to follow!).  Her worry was great and so I have always been amazed that she let her kids travel with dad.  I understood Lonny in a way, he was older and truly was dad’s shadow for all of his life until we lost dad.  For her to let Lon go with dad was easier.  But Chad was her baby, her last boy and she loved him in a way that a mother loves her ‘baby boy’.  That love is tangible and palpable.  Not to say that one doesn’t love all their children, of course we do.  It is to say it is different, it’s a deeper love of a mother and her youngest son.

For mom to allow dad to take Chad with him for days on end, in a truck had to be hard for her, but I believe that on some level, she realized the opportunity that provided for Chad.  If I know my dad, I am sure that along the way he shared tidbits and facts about some of the areas that they would travel through.  I also know that when they went to some of these places, dad took the time to take Lon, Ally and Chad to see some of the sights.  I know that dad took them to see the ocean!  For so many people that is only a dream. For my brothers and my sister, they saw the ocean through the windshield of an 18 wheeler, a memory they will have always.  To me, travel is more that just ‘seeing the sights’.  It is not just a fleeting moment, instead travel provides us a change in how we perceive the world, a change that is deep and permanent in the ideas of living.  As with most things, there are lessons in travel.  It is understanding that the world is beautiful, and seeing that beauty reminds us of the significance of appreciating what we have here, especially in the US.  I believe that there was no better way for my siblings to see that beauty, and to learn that appreciation then through the cab of dad’s truck, while he worked to provide for his family.

I smiled as I drove home after dropping Chad off thinking about my parents.  As dysfunctional as we seemed growing up, I realize today as an adult just how much we learned from our parents about the value of family.  We learned to love one another, and even though at times we could get frustrated with each other, we always came back to each other.  Through mom we learned to watch out for our younger siblings, and to care for each other.  And dad, he taught us to always be good to each other.  I remember him saying to me once (after I tried to strangle Roxy 😉 there was no one that infuriated me more than her when I was younger) that “at the end of the day, all that will matter is my family and my siblings and I needed to remember that”…

I have never forgotten that.

Today, I am sure that semi-truck driver thought that the cars waiting for him while he maneuvered his truck were irritated, but if he only knew that for me and possibly Chad, it triggered a memory that warmed my heart immensely.  Today, without realizing it, he made me smile.

It is amazing the things that at the time don’t seem a lesson, but later we realize the value of opportunity that was not obvious.

Dad and his 18 wheeler gave Lon, Ally and Chad a view of the world, through a working man’s lens.  There are many lessons in that.

When we started this blog, we knew we wanted a name that would give tribute to our family, and our upbringing,  That is why we chose the name we did.  No matter what I do, it almost always triggers a memory of my family in some way.  Today being a great example of that.

I cannot believe that it has been more than a decade since we lost both our parents.  I am often envious of my friends that still have their own parents, and for those friends of mine that also lost their parents early, there is a certain comrade, and understanding of what it is like to be orphaned “early”.

Our parents taught us much, often in the most unconventional ways but it is what made us who we are today.  It is in part, ‘The Art of being Anderson’.


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