Monday, December 21, 2009

Drive, Baby, Drive...

Reading a post on my friend kakka's blog brought back memories of how much I once loved to drive. You know -  before it became a means of getting to work, the kids to school, the shopping done. When it was a pleasure, pure and unadulterated, before it became... a chore.

My love of driving was a gift from my grandmother. She had her motor vehicle licence until around twelve months prior to her death at nearly 91. She drove for the pure joy of growing up in the motor era - all whilst still clearly recalling her childhood of the much slower horse and buggy travel. My early years consisted of going for drives after school nearly every day. She would pull up out front of our house, toot the horn, and with a clatter down the timber stairs and a "See ya Mum!" I'd be out the gate and into the back seat.

Usually she would have a snack of disgustingly good tasting, bad for you food such as hot baked potatoes and crispy bacon in a pie dish covered in tin foil. Saturated in salt and dripping with oil, they tasted SO good! Off we'd drive. Sometimes we'd drop in and pick up one of my school chums, sometimes not. All my friends loved Grandma, that's what they all called her, Grandma. One cheeky boy even called her yeehaw Grandma. They clamoured to be included in our schoolday jaunts, or fought even harder to be asked for the Sunday Drive. Her grey Chrysler Valiant was constantly filled to the brim with a bunch of giggling kids, no seat belts, merrily singing at the top of our lungs:

"We don't care who we bump, unless we bump the wall!"

Whilst the weekday runs were shorter by necessity, the Sunday excursions could be far longer. Half or full day trips, off to the city, over to a theme park, wherever our hearts desired. It was always discussed earlier in the week, usually on one of our briefer escapades. Destination decided, plans made, we then organised departure times, supplies and finally chose the lucky partners in adventure. Oh, those fun-filled, free days.

Roles reversed as I grew old enough to drive myself. Grandma herself often taught me, or more to the point was the licenced driver when I had my learner's permit. Never did I suffer awkward days of stumbling, fumbling, or beginner bumbling as I memorised road rules, or took control of the vehicle. Driving was in my blood, ingrained from years of backwoods meandering sitting in the rear seat of her plush, grey sedan.

Then came the days when Grandma grew frailer, and I became her source of escape, her chauffeur, the driver. By this point I was living in the bustling city, studying at Uni, part-time bar work at night. My times at home were briefer, but still as frequent as I could physically manage. Many nights I drove the city, unwinding, deep in thought, music blaring as I sorted through my life.

Until one day came the drive I was dreading, my final trip to farewell my beloved Grandma. I did not lose my love of the drive that night, in fact many times over the next year or so my travels helped me deal with the loss of my elderly companion. It was the onslaught of career, marriage, and then children which made driving my cares away no longer an easily attainable option.

It is only in recent years as the pace of life becomes more and more frenetic that I have completely lost my wandering ways. With children in the car almost constantly, my thoughts are no longer free to soar and my mind cannot concentrate on problems seeking resolution. But I think now is as good a time as any to change all that and reclaim back my wandering, gypsy roots.

This evening I shall go for a drive by myself purely for indulgence. And as I once more meander darkened country roads, I know Grandma will be right there beside me in spirit. And if I listen very carefully I will be able to hear a frail voice singing: "I don't care who we bump.." as we quietly drive through the still of the night.


Anonymous said...

What beautiful memories to have! Take that drive and enjoy every second of it.

Kakka said...

Great memories, my Grandma never drove. I have always loved to drive, but like you, it became a chore when my kids were little and they squabbled and then fought on who was going to sit in the front when they were at high school. But once I left them at school and drove to work, with the music cranked up and the windows open (before we had aircon or sunroof) that was my time to lose myself. Now my kids are grown, I love nothing more than driving by myself, music up, sunroof open, hair blowing the breeze - heaven on wheels. Thanks for sharing your memories. Hugs from Perth xxx

Anonymous said...

Madmother - Ilove this post. You have such a wonderful way with words and reading this made me feel like I was almost there with you and your school friends as a little girl.
What fantastic memories you have of your grandmother.
Thank you for sharing with us!

Cathy said...

This makes me think of driving holidays with Mum and Dad. Dad would always end up taking the "scenic route" via the rubbish tip or sewerage plant because of a wrong turn. And this would be about the time we would ask him how he ever became a navigator in the RAAF in 1944. He would always reply "Everything looks different from the air!"

Life In A Pink Fibro said...

She sounds like a wonderful woman, and what a great gift she gave you.

Thanks for Rewinding at the Fibro!