Driving Lessons with Pap


I can still remember my grandpa taking me out for my first drive the day after I got my learners permit. He was the only one brave enough to take me on a drive. And even then, I still had to bribe him with a hug around his neck and a kiss on the cheek. Apparently my family had no faith in me. Thanks, fam.

I am pretty sure I sprinted towards the car. I could hardly wait to get on the road. My grandpa climbed in and gave me a pep talk. Excitement and nerves made me clinch the wheel a little tighter. Before I knew it we were on the road. I think I was driving 15 under the speed limit. I remember my pap repeating “give it some gas, give it some gas.”

Slowly we made our way through town. As I started to pull into a parking lot to turn around, pap said, “Oh no, Shae. We aren’t done. Head for the interstate.” I think fear swept over my face. “Pap are you sure? I don’t think my mom…”He laughed, “Good thing she doesn’t get a say and I’m the boss of her.”

I crept towards the interstate. “Shae you’re going to have to give it more gas, girl.” I clinched the wheel tighter. “Pap, I AM!” He laughed again, “No Shae, more gas.” At this point I was yelling. “Pap, I can’t do it!” And then I stopped the car on at the end of the on ramp as if there were a yield sign.

“Ok, Shae. You’re going to go after this car. Floor it.” And I did. I am pretty sure I was shaking and he was laughing and repeated over and over again that I was fine. Once I calmed down (a little) he told me, “Ok, now we are going to change lanes.”

I got even more nervous. “Pap, why can’t I just stay here? I’m doing just fine and this is enough for one day.”

He replied, “Because I need to teach you something. Ok?”

I sighed an exhausted, “Okayyyy, pap.”

“Before you change lanes there is one thing you have to always do. You can use your side mirror, but there’s something else you have to do. You know what that is?”

“Ummm, not sure Pap and I can’t think right now,” I replied as I grabbed the wheel tighter.

“I want you to always look over your shoulder before changing lanes. Know what’s there and where you’re going before you change lanes. There are blind spots and it’s worth the extra second to look over your shoulder. If anything is there, be kind and just let them pass. There’s never a real hurry. Don’t be in too much of a rush that you don’t look back.”

Fast forward ten years and I’m driving myself back to Michigan. It’s just me now on the interstate and as I start to change lanes, my pap’s words ring in my ears. “Look over your shoulder.” I had just been reflecting on my 2016 and it hit me that sometimes, we are going so fast onto the next thing, we forget to look back.

Before I exit 2016, I am treating the on ramp to 2017 like 15-year-old Shae did. I’m stopping like there’s a yield sign and reflecting on my year by more than just glancing in the mirror. I am taking a good look over my shoulder to make sure I know what’s there and where I’m headed in 2017.

It’s so easy to be in a rush, especially this time of year. But, I think my pap said it best: “There’s never a real hurry.”

Wishing you all a month full of true reflection, happiness, and love.


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