Monday, September 08, 2008

Linley takes the wheel

Welcome to my blog, a public diary chronicling the joys and frustrations of writing for a living, and a few points of interest along my life's meandering journey.

I write inspirational stories about relationships that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories in which the reader might find hope, guidance, rekindled affection and a reason to smile.

Please visit http://www.gregoryelang.com/ and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

NOTE: The deadline to offer a mother-daughter story for “Mom’s Little Angel” has passed. Please continue to visit this blog for updates on the book as it begins the last leg of its journey toward publication (Spring, 2009).

Now on to today’s post~

Linley is now just 5 months shy of turning 15 and becoming eligible for her learner’s permit. By this same time in Meagan’s life she had been driving on back roads for three years; I wanted her to have years of practice before letting her go solo behind the wheel at 16. Jill, as law abiding and nervous as she is, has not allowed me to put Linley behind the wheel as early as I did with Meagan. Yet I remain convinced driving practice saves lives, and giving Linley opportunities to practice is my duty.

Last weekend we were in the foothills of the north GA mountains, staying with friends at their lake house which is miles off the beaten path and accessed only by a narrow, gravel topped road cutting through a densely wooded forest. When the time came to leave, I gave Linley the keys, gently shoved Jill into the backseat and took my place in the copilot’s chair. Over the gravel we go, then onto the curvy dirt road overlooking the ravine (Jill was hyperventilating at this point), onto the paved access road leading out of the forest, all the way to the stop sign that would put us on the two-lane state road. A good place to stop and change drivers, Jill exclaimed. I looked at Linley and smiled – she turned on the blinker and pulled into traffic.

We didn’t go far, maybe a mile before reaching the next stop sign, and Jill wouldn’t stop screaming at us, so Linley and I finally switched places for fear her mother was about to bust a vessel, but not before smiling at each other as we crossed paths behind the Rover.

I wrote in my book “Life Maps: Simple Directions for Finding Your way,” of a similar day spent with Meagan:

“As I looked out of the car window, the old sting of loss and worry about her eventual departure came back to me. I know I have to let my child go. I cannot keep her under my wing, not that she would she let me. Yet I asked myself, how do I let my daughter go before I am certain she is ready for what she will face? How do I prepare my stepdaughter, Linley? I thought of Meagan’s fear of becoming lost and my own fear of her losing her way. I suddenly wanted to write down some directions for driving, even for living, and stuff them into the folds of the maps in the glove box. I smiled as I imagined her pulling off the road one day to refer to a map, unfolding it and my hand-scribbled notes falling into her lap. “Don’t drive too fast,” “Follow at a safe distance,” “Keep a diary,” “Laugh often,” and “Come home now and then,” they would say.

In that moment the idea of this book came to me. Better a book than random notes in the glove box, I thought, because she could keep a book at her desk, on her nightstand, in her briefcase, or anywhere else close at hand, ready and waiting for her when she wants to reminisce about what we have done together, when she wants to know how much I care about her, or when she needs a hug and I am not near enough to give it to her.

And so here it is, this book that might have been notes tucked away in a road map, a collection of fatherly advice and directions for living a wonderful life, offered with love to my little girls. Meagan, I hope you will read it when you get lost, when you just want to reassure yourself of where you are going, and when you miss me. And Linley, put your shoes on, we are going for a drive. You take the wheel.”

Linley, your lessons have begun. Jill, my love, just sit back and let it happen – it is what dads, even stepdads, do.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

1 comment:

Jessica said...

Boy does that bring back lessons of learning to drive with my Dad! I think I burned the emergency brake on his car because I was so nervous about driving a stick shift, I forgot to release the brake!