Memories: Driver's License and Fatherly Advice

by A. Seno
(Cavite, Philippines)

“If you are going to apply for a driver’s license, make it a Professional one, not the non-Pro. That way, you won’t need to apply again if you need a Professional License in the future. Less hassles for you.”


These were the words I remember my Dad saying more than seven years ago. It was during the time I told him I was going to apply for a driver’s license.

“But Dad, why would I need a Professional License? I won’t be driving a bus or a truck!”, I laughingly retorted, shaking my head. Deep inside, I was thinking, heck, my Dad is losing it! I would only be driving a car, why bother with the trouble of getting a Professional license?

Feeling that I know better than my 63 year old father, I applied and got a Non- Professional license instead.

I was 30 years old then and was just learning how to drive again. I studied driving when I was 17 but didn’t persevere. Why? Well, my father and my siblings were always around to give me a ride. Then when I got married, my husband drove for me. But when my family all started working abroad, I was left stranded. Two cars in the garage and no driver. Something has to be done.

I enrolled in a Driving school and learned the basics. I bought a used hand car to practice on. My Dad didn’t want me to use the family cars, just in case I do some damage to them.

Being a teacher, I devised a plan for mastering driving. I would practice at least 30 minutes a day for a week after I get off work. After that, I would start bringing the car to school.

Since my Dad was retired by then and was just staying at our old house, I solicited his help. Every afternoon, I would call him up and he would gamely go to my house and teach me how to drive.

We would just drive around the village slowly. He would pretend that I’m doing fine, although I can sense that he is really nervous. He would constantly give me advice.

“Always check your water and oil level before leaving the house. Adjust your side mirrors and seat before driving. Make sure you have the necessary car papers”. And the list went on.

After a week or so of practicing, I felt I was ready to drive my car to the office. I have an office mate who lives in the same village as I am and who was willing to ride with me. She doesn’t know how to drive but at least I will have company.

Dad was so worried. “Are you sure you’re ready? Don’t you want to postpone this? Do you want me to go with you?”

I told him I can do it and not to worry. And since I’ll be leaving my house at a very early time, I told him not to go with me anymore.

My driving went smoothly, although I was all sweaty and nervous. When we reached the highway, my office mate said “Isn’t that the car of your father?”, while pointing towards a blue car which was following us. I looked in the mirror and saw… my dad! He was like a guardian angel, looking out for me, trying to see if I’m doing well. I felt so happy and touched that he would go to this trouble. When I turned towards the street that would lead to the office, he honked and stayed behind. He didn’t leave until he saw me drive safely into the street. My close friend, Olive, was touched by what my father did. “He really is a Dad”, she said.

Since my car is second-hand, there is always something going wrong with it. Looking back, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve made a frantic call to my father asking for assistance.

“Dad, my car won’t start.” “I left my key inside the car and I don’t have a spare.” “I have a flat tire.” “My car broke down, can you fetch me?” “There is smoke coming out of the hood, what should I do?”

There were even times when my father would be drenched in the rain while fixing my car. Or when he has to fetch me at an unholy hour even if he was already in bed. And I didn’t hear any word of complaint from him. And more often than not, he didn’t hear any word of thanks from me. I simply took it for granted that he will always be there, my engineer father, ready to fix any problem I would encounter along the way.

Then my father suddenly died three years later. There was no premonition or warning. There was no time to say goodbye. He had a stroke and died in the house. Alone. With no one to help him.

I remember the morning he died that I was trying to call his house. I also made numerous texts and calls to his cell phone but he was not answering, which was pretty strange because he has never made me wait before. He will always find time for me. And it should have hit me then that if my father is not responding, it’s because he simply…can’t.

Now, I have a teenage son who would soon be learning how to drive. I need to change my license to a Professional one so that I can teach him. And as I apply for my new license, I remember my Dad. I am filled with love remembering all he has done for me; sadness and remorse, for not appreciating him while he was still alive; and a burning passion to impart to my son what my Dad has taught me about driving and life.

I also cannot stop myself from saying “You were right all along, Dad. I should have gotten a Professional License!”


*********

A. Seno,

Thank you so much for telling and sharing this story, with the readers of this site. I think it will make many of us stop and think.

I think many of us take our fathers, mothers, family members and friends for granted... until it is too late.

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