Thursday, October 15, 2009

Stories from the Road

With nine kids in a family, one rarely goes on vacation. In fact, as far as I recall, we never took any vacation. (Don't worry; we had plenty of fun. I just don't remember having fun somewhere else.) Of course, we did take occasional drives out to my grandma's house or the cousins' farms about 30 minutes away.

When Dad was driving, the trip was significantly different than when Mom was just taking us kids. For instance, the car was more crowded; if Dad was driving, it usually meant a family outing. When the whole family went, it was Mom and Dad in the front, with one kid in between, plus four big kids across the back seat with two-to-three bony-butted kids on those laps (no seatbelt laws in those days.) That wasn't so bad for me (one of the little bony-butts); the bad part about riding with Dad was that he smoked in the car, with the tiny triangle side-window open just a crack. (I feel nauseous even thinking about it.) No one dared complain to my dad about anything he did, so we just "sucked it up," both literally and figuratively. I was going to say that we probably listened to the radio, but that might imply togetherness. Instead, I'll say that the radio was probably playing on a station Dad liked, and we waited anxiously to arrive at our destination.

Now, a ride in the car with Mom was an altogether different experience. First of all, if Mom was driving, that meant Dad wasn't with us. I remember feeling comfortable in the car when Mom was driving (well, when we weren't getting in fender benders or getting t-boned, but that's another post.) Maybe some of the older kids got to beg off when Mom was driving? Anyway, whenever she was driving, there was plenty of room, and we were always singing. We sang church songs, silly songs, rounds, and old standards. We sang ballads and soundtracks and camp songs. There is nothing like singing to help you pass the time during a roadtrip. Even if it was late at night and we were all tired, someone would be singing with Mom, or she would be telling a ghost story. (Of course, the kind that made us laugh, not keep us from sleeping at night; that's what brothers are for, right?) A late night ride home after a day of fun "up north" was always peaceful.

I guess I should add that I still got nauseous, even when Mom was driving (even on that relatively-short trip home from Grandma's), sometimes to the "danger-point." I remember one particularly-memorable ride home. I was feeling nauseous, and I told mom. She replied, "Just wait til we get home. We'll be there before you know it." Several minutes later, I repeated, more earnestly, "Mom, I feel like I'm going to throw up!" And she replied, "Honey, just wait. We'll be home soon, I promise."

I waited as long as I could. The moment we pulled into our driveway, I puked all over the front seat.

At least I waited til we got home...

P.S. I figured I owed you guys a "real" post, especially because no one has reamed me out about my short posts lately. I hope you liked this one. Thanks for your friendship; you're the best.

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