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Driving Miss Darlene

Last updated on October 23, 2018

Click to donate toward Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes
Click to donate toward Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes


I remember drives the best.

Despite being bored out of my mind when I was younger, my mother had a love for driving long drives–going no where for no reason other than just to see what’s around the bend. I drove her batty on lone drives when we were both younger because that’s what children do. There were several long drives that happened simply due to having to move and visiting other people–hours or days in the care to get where we needed to go.  I imagine that went something like: What’s that? Where are we going? Are we there yet? Why are we going there? Look at that–who’s that? Why did the car stop? I have to pee. I’m hungry. I’m bored. Can we stop here? Can we stop at the pool? Look mommy, pool!

My mother said that I could pick out a Mc Donald’s arch, like an eagle, miles away before either of them could see it or even see a sign indicating we were near one. And god forbid when I was younger we passed a hotel sign advertising they had a pool–I would apparently take up the chant, POOL MOMMY POOL MOMMY POOL MOMMY POOL MOMMY until my parents were ready to pull over the car and run screaming into the woods. Or, pull over to the hotel and by god, let her swim jesus christ.

We drove everywhere because in Alberta/Nova Scotia, walking anywhere took days without a car. (My mom used to tell me about those days, when she’d wake up early just to walk miles and miles to the local store and hang out, or how she’d have to hitch hike to get anywhere.) We have a little Toyota Tercel for the longest while. That car spent more time in our family than some people’s friendships. That little hatchback carried us across Canada and my father to work for what seemed like decades. And my mother loved driving in it–driving anywhere. 
When we moved back to Nova Scotia when I was around seven years old, there wasn’t much to do originally, but a business boom in Greenwood brought changes. Eventually, there was a Tim Hortons coffee shop built–and that’s when Timmies and driving to get one became the family tradition give or take. Mom loved her Tim Hortons coffees and she loved her drives–she’d drive the half hour to go there and pick up a coffee, drive around or sit in the car or sit inside and smoke and talk or just bring the coffee home. But to her, it was some sort of sacred ritual…this ability to just get up and drive somewhere.I remember drives with her as the best, because I could make her laugh, especially when I got older and she felt like she could speak to me about things she couldn’t when I was younger. I would be loud, obnoxious, and my usual self. She’d turn up the radio as we headed on down a long road, crank it, and we’d bellow out something by Heart, or a song we recognized on the classic radio station. We’d butcher most of them not understanding the words and end up cracking up with laughter.  For my mother, it didn’t even have to have a reason or a goal sometimes. Sometimes we couldn’t afford the coffee or going anywhere–it was just about getting in the car, rolling down the window and blaring the music.

Several years ago I had the chance to go back to Alberta to visit her and dad for a month. She was getting very sick. Her kidneys had started to fail and she was taking hemoglobin. It wasn’t working very well. She’d have six or seven dizzy spells that would be accompanied by nausea. And yet? That didn’t stop her at all. Dad had bought her her own car. He had it tricked out with a GPS to help her find her way, a satellite radio with a sweetass stereo system. One of the first things she did after I had settled in and felt better was to get me to hop in that car with her and go–we’d pick up a Timmie’s coffee first, and then she’d aimlessly drive me around where she lived. We talked, we giggled, we spoke on things that mothers often forget to speak about to their daughters. I got to see the city lights with her at night, which was as bright and as full as any star-filled sky. 
I miss that. I miss the drives, even the long boring ones. Even the ones we didn’t say anything to one another.I would like to think that if there was a heaven, it would be one that gave her the black mustang she always wanted, a long, winding road in summer, the best tunes on the radio, and an endless supply of Timmies for the road.

Miss ya mom, leave a seat empty for me.

Help pay for Mel's tattoo in memory of her mother
[box type=”bio”] Melissa Pence is wife to the husband and wife team here behind 2 phatgeeks. On December 11th, 2011, Melissa lost her mother to a long, difficult battle to diabetes. In her memory, Melissa is blogging 24 hours in order to raise funds for her through the organization: Step Out: End to Walk Diabetes, and for the personal goal to finish a humming bird tattoo on her right arm in memory of her mother. [/box]
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