The Things People Carry

My mom’s horrible driving was an inside joke between me and my brothers. Her foot was always pressing on the brakes.  To say she was a nervous driver would be an understatement.  My mom was paranoid behind the wheel.  I learned to not even lean forward because at some point she would slam on the brakes (for no good reason) and I would be flung back against the back of the seat.

One day, as a moody and snooty teenager, I decided to make a snarky remark to my mom about her driving.  I expected her to say something to me or at least give me her ‘you better shut up’ glare.  She didn’t.  She didn’t react at all. So I decided it was okay to make fun of her driving more often. One night, my dad overheard me teasing my mom and he told me to stop.  He brought me to a different room and told me not to tease her about her driving anymore.

“Why not?  It doesn’t seem to bother her,”  I said.

“When your mom was a teen she hit a man walking along the street and he died.  The man was drunk and was staggering all over the place.  The cops stopped him.  They let him go and told him to hurry up and get home.  It was dark and there were no street lights and he walked in front of your mom’s car.  She didn’t even see him until it was too late.  That is why your mom drives like she does.”

I learned a very important lesson that night.  People do things the way they do for a reason.  We all have our own history that shapes us. Although my mom could not have prevented what happened, she will carry that with her all her days.

I try to remind myself of this when I get frustrated with others. We all have things of this life we carry with us…things that have changed us to the core.

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