Why do the lessons your parents taught—good or bad—stick in your head forever?
I now live in Phoenix during the winter and Illinois the rest of the year. Driving on the Arizona freeway to meet someone, I muse about how my father would feel concerning my punctuality while in Arizona. My dad was a stickler for being on time. He always declared that it was downright rude to other people to be late, especially for appointments. (Obviously, none of his children grew up to be doctors.)
I must admit when I was late to my parent’s house I could always blame it on my children. (One couldn’t find his belt or the other couldn’t get her earring in or his basketball practice ran late.) But in the years prior to my father’s death, my excuses left home and I had a fifteen-mile commute to pick him up for dinner twice a week. If I were late he would be in his driveway waiting, shaking his head, and tapping on his watch. To this day I have difficulty being late because I can see that picture in my head.
Back in my small town of 10,000, my commute to work is five minutes. The grocery store used to be two minutes until it closed, and now I have to drive five or six minutes to the other one. The library is one mile away and the post office is about the same. So imagine how hard it is to figure out “punctual” when you live in a spread-out city of one and half million people and continually drive on freeways.
Yesterday I was going 70 mph when all three lanes of traffic came to a screeching halt, everything on my passenger seat hit the floor, and then we crawled for thirty minutes while I regained my breath. “On time” was not even an issue. “Alive” seemed like a better goal. Early mornings I watch the traffic report and hear of seventeen wrecks already before 9 a.m. Often these mishaps close lanes or entire freeways for hours. Yesterday a semi overturned on The 10 freeway and one of my children had a two-hour commute, double his usual time. How does anyone get to work on time–or home for that matter?
Tomorrow I have an appointment thirty minutes away in Gilbert. So rain or shine; traffic fast, stopped or crawling; accidents or clear freeway, I will attempt to be on time in the Big City. It’s either that or, once again, my guilty conscience will hear his voice in my head.
I am thankful, Mom and Dad, that you tried so hard to teach me civility, but did your voices have to be so loud and persistent, even after death?