Thursday, March 25, 2010

the mark of a man

As a result of a recent dream, I have been remembering the first time my son showed me his deep and true adult character.

The dream, not written down and so soon forgotten, was nonetheless felt to be of significance.  The only portion that I have been able to retain was my son driving me on a fast road, he swerving in and out of traffic and various road situations with incredible driving skill, accuracy and speed.  The dream itself had other implications, and many specific details which were satisfying at the time, but forgotten by the next week.

But still, the dream prompted the remembrance:

My son had turned 21 that year.   I had been in a frightening car accident, had been sitting on the passenger side, sure that my life was to be over.  Happily, it was in an older Volvo, and yes, my Volvo saved my life, as the advertisement used to say.  A week later, I needed to drive a long distance home, maybe 10 hours of driving across national borders and high-speed roads.  I was wary of the car altogether and didn't anticipate taking this trip with any pleasure.  My son offered to drive me the distance, changing his plans to meet my needs.  On the road, I was very squirrelly, fearful of the traffic and the speeds and, most especially, of passing any trucks at all.  I needed my son to drive for me, and I needed to calm myself and re-learn how to be a passenger without startling or tensing.  It was a hard trip for me.  The highway speeds were difficult -- I had always been a good driver, and generally would flow with the faster traffic, managing with ease the five miles per hour (or greater) more than the standard top speed that was the normal pace of the middle and left lanes. 

Now, however, the slightest increase above the speed limit kept me tense, and attempting to pass a large truck that was going the lower truck speed limit completely unhinged me.

My good and gentle son, fierce looking with his well-configured punk style and tall, strong body, certainly at 21 years of age  was used to highway speeds and a young man's confidence.  Yet, with his mother beside him, he drove for all those highway hours at exactly the speed limit, driving in the slower right-hand lane, letting the trucks pass us by.  He did not once make fun of my jumpiness nor of my active right leg attacking a ghostly brake pedal from time to time.  He comforted me, asked me about my fears, encouraged me to relax, and, above all, allowed my needs to govern the long drive home.  When we became stuck behind a really slow truck, he talked me through accepting moving to the center and left lanes to make the pass around, pointing out that it was actually safer to get ahead of a large truck, rather than to be behind one if there were to be an accident ahead.  

I felt moved not only by the care that this adult young man was now showing his mother, but also by the great generosity which marked his entire manner during this trip.  I knew then the man that he had become, and the character that would be part of the rest of his life.

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