Editorial – Driving with Dad by Elizabeth French

As you grow up, you realize the most insignificant tasks you did as a child had the biggest impact on your life.  Things like Sunday morning grocery shopping trips, weekly outings to the local hardware store, and even glamourous trips to the garbage dump all had one thing in common for me as a child – my dad was the driver.  It didn’t matter where he was going, I always wanted to tag along.  Every P.A. Day was spent driving downtown with my dad to spend the day at work with him.  My dad would often do early morning deliveries for his job, which required waking up in the wee hours of the morning long before sunrise.  I wasn’t much of a morning person, but once that alarm went off at 4 am, I was up and getting ready to get in the car, blanket in tow.  Every summer our family would go on our annual camping trip to Algonquin Park.  My mom would pack the minivan full to the brim and my brother and I would climb in and watch our portable DVD player, as my dad drove us hours, ensuring we stopped for French fries along the way.  Every night in Algonquin, my dad would drive us around the park looking for moose or bear.  I don’t think there was a single year we didn’t see some kind of wildlife on our drives. 

Once I hit driving age, my dad was gassed up and ready to unload all his knowledge onto me.  He taught me how to merge like a pro, parallel park, three-point turn, and eventually I even learned to drive on the road without hugging the curb.  I got my license and was finally able to drive.  Fast forward a few years to when I went to university.  Given the choice to take the bus to downtown Toronto every day or drive with my dad, you can imagine what I chose.  Even though he left before sunrise still, heading into the city every morning with my dad was an opportunity I wouldn’t miss.  We would catch all the early morning talk radio specials, with Coast to Coast as our personal favourite.  Heading home together every afternoon, listening to the impending doom of traffic on the radio, seeing groundhogs alongside the highway with my dad insisting they responded to the names he gave them, was the highlight of my university days. 

After university, once I was working full-time, we rarely got the opportunity to go for drives, especially once I bought my own house (though he did visit multiple times a week and always brought my favourite pies).  Then, my kids came into the picture.  My dad spends every spare minute he can with them.  Naturally as time went on, we had less and less time to spend together, with most of our time trying to have a conversation over top of my screaming children, both fighting for his attention.   

Once my parents bought Antiques on 48 I was able to spend more time with them.  It wasn’t until they took over The Wayback Times that I was able to relive my childhood again by delivering the newspaper across Ontario with my dad (talk about a long drive!).  Every 3 months we plan our route a little better than the last time, get a little less lost than the time before, and make note of all the greasiest pizza shops in town.  We spend 3 full days driving together.  We still leave before sunrise, listen to bad talk radio, have heart to hearts, rage about the traffic, and play air drums to Phil Colins.  My dad always makes sure I have an iced coffee in hand, finds the best thrift stores to stop at, and always buys me a piece of vintage glass that I just “need” to have.  I’m very lucky to have this opportunity to spend such quality time with my dad, and especially lucky it’s doing something we’ve always done together.

As long as we are delivering the newspaper, you better believe I will be up at the crack of dawn, blanket in tow, waiting for my dad to come pick me up.       

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