Boy did my grandpa love to drive. Even after suffering a stroke and the debilitating effects of Dementia he still retained his ability to ask me about whether I had an opportunity to do some driving. He didn’t really care about whether or not I had a destination or anything, he just wanted me to get out there and do some driving. If you didn’t know him you’d think that driving would be a rather peculiar thing to get excited about, but when you take into consideration the fact that he suffered from Polio and that he was so severely limited by that disease it is not at all surprising to understand why something like driving would appeal to Grandpa. It was, in many respects, his one way of experiencing real freedom.
I remember after I had just gotten my driver’s license, I witnessed a terrible accident. I was heading down a hill and the person in the car in front of me stopped abruptly. I noticed that he slammed on his breaks and swerved out of the way, but the woman driving the minivan behind me was not so lucky. She wasn’t able to slow down at all and smashed into this car that was attempting a turn at over fifty miles per hour. Both cars were absolutely demolished and since I had swerved off to the side, I heard the impact at point blank range. My window was partially open and glass from one of the cars’ windshields landed on my car and made it tough to see the road in front of me. I truly didn’t know what to do. The adrenaline was pumping so fast that I took off. I headed back after I had a minute to think about it and pulled over. I gave my account of what happened to the police officers investigating the scene and checked on both drivers to make sure they were alright, but it was a terrifying experience and I hadn’t even been involved in the crash.
About six months later, I was stopped at a stop sign heading home after school when a woman smacked into me very lightly with her car. I looked behind me and saw the look on her face, which was a look of utter terror and I pulled out of the parking lot and off towards the side of the road, but she did not. She took off. I was just a few blocks from a local convenience store and so I drove there, parked my car and called my dad. I didn’t know what to do. What do you do in a hit-and-run accident when someone leaves the scene? I didn’t remember the license plate because I hadn’t even attempted to look at the license plate. My dad told me to look around and see if I noticed the car or if it was still around. I didn’t see it for a moment, but then out of the corner of my eye I saw the car getting ready to turn at the intersection across the street. I raced into my car and sped off in an attempt to catch her, but she was too far ahead of me and I couldn’t keep up. When I got home I took a look at my car and there was next to no damage. Aside from a scuff mark on my back bumper there was nothing out of the ordinary. But I was shaken. I was scared and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to drive at all after that.
About a week later we went up to see Grandpa, a process which usually took an entire day. It was always worth it for my mother and me. When we got up there Grandpa asked me if I had gotten the opportunity to do any driving and I told him what had happened with the two accidents.
“You’ve got to get back out on the road,” Grandpa said without an ounce of hesitation. I was taken aback by how confident he was in his reply.
“It’s not that easy,” I replied. He gave me a stern look. It was one of those looks that he gave me when he knew that I had no idea what I was talking about.
“You need to get back out there and keep driving, that’s the only way you’re going to be able to put the fear of this behind you,” he said.
“I just can’t do it,” I responded and I was adamant about that. I was really scared. Any time another car stopped behind me I worried that maybe they’d hit me. As cars passed on the highway I worried that one might meander into my lane and hit me. But Grandpa was absolutely sure of himself.
“You can and you will,” he replied with the kind of confidence that only he could exude.
Three weeks later I was back on the road and doing perfectly fine. Grandpa had been right. All I needed to do was get back out on the road. Then, late one night after a rough night at work I came home and there was a cat sitting in a crate in my living room. I looked at the crate kind of puzzled and asked my sister what that was doing there.
“Mom got in a car accident and she’s not going to be home until late,” she said. That was odd because that didn’t explain why there was a cat sitting in a crate in my living room.
“Do you have any details?” I asked. My sister being my sister replied that it wouldn’t be anything that I’d be interested in, whatever that meant.
Later on I found out that my mother had been hit nearly head on by a drunk driver and that he had tried to take her cell phone away from her so that she wouldn’t call the police. Just hearing the details sent a shiver up my spine. It was terrifying. The idea that you could be driving along minding your own business and then all of a sudden just have someone cross over the median and hit you head on really scared me. My mother was given a rental car and she remembered Grandpa’s advice that the only way you can get through these things is to get back behind the wheel and keep driving.
All of this may seem to have nothing to do with football and it doesn’t really (in fact, Grandpa hated football and would probably hate the fact that I was using his advice as anecdotal evidence for how to get over a football game.) However, I think it is important that just as we don’t let other drivers deter us from driving that we don’t let poor officiating deter us from our love and passion for the game of football. This is why I call upon all of my fellow Packer fans across the nation to suit up tomorrow and wear your green and gold proud. We can’t be defined by one game let alone one play and by this time tomorrow I expect all the Packers fans around the nation to be back behind the wheel driving in open defiance to the officials. We’ve got to get back out there and support our team. Bring on the 0-3 Saints because I think everyone can agree that next week it’s going to be a rough afternoon for Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints up at Lambeau and I expect to see a passion from our fans that surpasses the legacy left by one bad call because our season cannot be defined by one moment in time however unfair that moment may be.