A Rutted Road

Dad was driving our old beige Chevy down a winding road.  Mom was in the front seat, and I was there too, standing on the seat riding in between.  There were no car seats back then and no laws requiring them.  On the seat I stood tall enough to see through the windshield.  I liked watching the ridge of gravel disappear beneath the car as it slowly moved along.

That’s where we were when my dad playfully announced, “You’re not going to be the baby anymore.  You’re gonna have a new brother or sister, and they’ll be the baby, not you.”  I don’t recall how I respnded or how I felt, but of all the pictures in my mind this appears to be the earliest.

We lived in a little three room house my mother later called a shack.  It was at the end of a one lane road that had never seen gravel.  We shared this dirt road with my mother’s parents.  They lived in a bigger house across the road and down another lane from us.

When the road was wet any traffic would cut tracks in the dirt, each vehicle creating new or deeper ruts.  When the mud froze from the cold or dried from the sun, the ruts would harden.  The muffler on a car would be damaged or the tailpipe dragged loose if the driver fauiled to maneuver the wheels in just the right place.

One day in the winter around the time I turned three, that road made the next memory for me.  It was badly rutted from the moisture and all the freezing and thawing.  My dad had made it out to work that morning, but the road had thawed by the time he was on his way home.  My grandparents had gone out and come back in during the day.  The extra ruts created made the road unmaneuverable.  Fearing he’d get stuck or lose a muffler, my dad parked the car and walked on home.

The next morning we had to go somewhere.  Whatever had to be done, we always went together.  My mother never left us with her parents and there was no one else to watch us.  I don’t recall where we had to go, but that morning Mom tucked me in my one-piece snowsuit and zipped me up in it.  It was a bumpy wool fabric dyed a kelly green.  It had a rough texture I recognized years later when stroking a poodle.

The temperatures had dropped overnight and the road was frozen again.  My parents lead the way and my older sister and I followed. It didn’t take long for my hands and feet to get cold.  I remember looking at my feet, afraid of stumbling and landing on the rough, scarred dirt.  The longer we walked the colder I became.  My foot twisted and I fell down.  I began to cry for Dad to carry me, but his arms were occupied, wrapped tightly around the blankets covering my baby brother. Mom had a large diaper bag hanging from her shoulder, and she was carrying something else. What it was I don’t remember.

“You keep cryin’ like that,” my dad warned, “you’ll have long icicles hanging from your face.”  Neither of my parents ever coddled us.  Life was tough and they prepared us from the start.  Falling down required that you pick yourself back up.  “Get up,” said Mom.  “You’re okay.  Just keep walking.  Stay in the tracks. We’re almost there.”

Some fifty years later, I have started to reflect on my life.  Those early memories translate to me as a metaphor.  Life is a rutted road.  Its ground is seldom level.  Expect to fall down, but get back up and walk again.  Some things you must do on your own.  Loved ones, even if willing, can not carry you.

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About Adnelg

Retired ... taking it slow and enjoying the simple things in life
This entry was posted in past (my stories of), people, places and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to A Rutted Road

  1. drfugawe says:

    It’s all too easy to recall so many things about our childhoods -good and bad- as we age. Almost easier than trying to recall what we had for lunch yesterday. And as you recall yours, it’s impossible to stop the flow of similar memories of my own.

    My childhood was rich and eventful, with few traumatic events to mar the pleasure of recall – Thanks for the opportunity.

    • adnelg says:

      So glad to hear that any memories my story triggered were pleasurable. I agree that childhood memories are now getting easier than recalling the present. I sent my husband in to pay the water bill today. He came back out with the envelope and said there was no check in there. Crazy how I can remember stuff when I was 3 years old but can’t remember to put the check in the envelope. Thanks for reading my memories and taking the time to let me know that you appreciate them.

  2. Your post evoked many childhood memories. As with your family, my brother and I accompanied our parents whenever we left our farm home. Those outings weren’t always fun as we were often tired, our parents were often time-stressed, and there was little coddling nor time for hurt feelings. The experiences did build resilience and fortitude — attributes that have served me well as an adult. Keep writing your great blog. Sincerely, Jeanette aka postworksavvy

    • adnelg says:

      Like you, I feel that I benefitted from the type of parenting I received. I’m quite sure I would be a different person today had they “babied”me everytime I started to complain or cry. I like my independent and self-reliant nature. Though a liability at times, I consider those qualities mostly assets in my life. I too developed more fortitude and resilience –qualities that have also served me well. Thanks so much for your comment. Feels good to hear from another with a similar heart.

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