I don't know much about his history of driving a truck because he didn't talk much and our relationship was carried on through my mother, but I know he worked hard. He was usually on the road from Sunday afternoon to Friday morning. When he came home, he put on cut off shorts and took care of the yard and other household projects. He was usually sweating and sunburned and he found little time to do the things that he wanted to do and wound up in his recliner most Saturday afternoons, totally exhausted, trying to catch his breath.
We didn't develop our relationship until our medium was gone. Our medium, my mother, went away when they divorced. I was 22. Suddenly, we had to get to know each other and it was incredible.
We drank a lot of beer, we had deep conversations about life and love. He grieved his relationship with me and Bud Light at his side. And he drove.
He continued to hit the road, come home, mow the grass, and be exhausted.
My Friday nights with him were my favorite night of the week. I couldn't wait to climb up on that barstool next to him and get my first sip of foamy, crappy beer. He stunned me with his brilliant advice and made me laugh like crazy.
But during the week, I held my breath. I talked to him once or twice, but not knowing where he was and what he was facing out there on the road with a tanker filled with chemicals behind him scared me to death.
Each morning I drove to work with a cigarette in one hand and a Diet Coke in the other, with my spare fingers guiding the steering wheel as I careened down the interstate at 80 miles per hour. I listened to crappy morning radio shows with half an ear, but when the traffic reports came on, I turned up the volume and focused on their words, praying that they wouldn't say "truck accident". Many times he wasn't anywhere near Atlanta, but I still feared he had caught a load headed home that I didn't know about.
If I did hear something about an accident involving a tractor-trailer, I panicked and called him as soon as I could.
Each time, he answered, "Yelllo."
Each time, my heart soared when I knew he was safe and sound.
Each time, I counted the days until Friday when I would be able to sit next to him again.
He retired about 4 years ago. The only dangerous thing he does now is drive to the golf course each Tuesday to play "pasture pool" with his buddies.
And yet, I still listen intently to those traffic reports, and I think of my silly dad.