Category Archives: driving laws


Dear Mom,

As I was driving to see you in May, I listened to several interesting radio programs and talk shows. One I’ve already written about (“Mothers And Phone Sex. Really?) Another less controversial program I listened to reminded me of a writing seminar you and I attended together many years ago.

One of the speakers told the participants to practice writing tight, with as few words as possible to make the point. As a warm-up exercise, he gave us ten minutes to write as many descriptive sentences as we could. They could be descriptions of characters or locations or any of the senses, but each sentence could not be longer than ten words. The winner with the most sentences won an autographed book by the speaker. I don’t remember who won or what the sentences were. I do remember that I showed you one of my sentences and you showed me the beginning of a poem you’d decided to write instead.

The writing seminar allowed ten-word sentences. The radio program I listened to asked callers to come up with five-word messages that could become mottos or bumper stickers. One of the callers offered “Tell The Truth, You Liar” and “Don’t Fix What’s Not Broken.” Those are the ones I remember (I was driving, after all).

That afternoon while you napped in the recliner, I took out a notebook and decided to record as many three-word messages and mottos I remembered  hearing as I grew up. Here’s what I came up with:

~ from sports: “Cover your bases” and “Play to win”

~ from Dad: “Do your best,” “Figure it Out,” “You did what?” and “For Pete’s sake”

~ in general from TV or at school or with friends: “Do your homework,” “Make your point,” “Clean it up,” “Don’t you dare,”  “You wanna bet?” and “Not so fast”

~ and from you, Mom: “Say your prayers,” “Don’t give up,” “Are you sure?” and “Say you’re sorry.”

My favorite three-word message is the one that you say at the end of our telephone conversations, when, at least for awhile, you knew me and what we were talking about: “Love you, darlin’.”

Love you, Mom.


BLOG FRIENDS:  Share your  THREE-WORD mottos or messages.


Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, driving laws, memories for great-grandchildren, writing, writing exercises


(sign on a side road 9 miles north of Fort Scott, KS)

Hi, Mom,

Here’s some driving trivia for you. Kansas adopted specific seatbelt laws in 1986, and Colorado followed in 1987. The ages for having to wear seatbelts vary slightly, but both states fine drivers when they–and their riders, especially under-age riders–do not wear seatbelts.

You used to drive anywhere and everywhere, Mom. You transported your children and grandchildren and anyone who needed a ride, and this was before seatbelt laws. When our dog Stardust scratched open her abdomen stitches after surgery, you wrapped her in an old quilt and drove her to the vet’s. I know because I helped hold Stardust in the front seat. She was miserable and her blood was seeping through the quilt, but you stayed calm, kept driving, and talked softly to Stardust as you patted her head.

That was the only time I remember us making a mess in any of the cars. We always drove D-license plates, meaning the cars were for sale at the dealership. So when you drove us and our friends to the swimming pool or youth group or any activities, if we stopped for treats or ice cream cones, we got out of the car to eat them. No messes in the car. That was the rule.

Stardust left a bloody mess in the front seat that day, and the vet couldn’t save her. Dad never said a word. We’d just lost our dog, and the rules changed when we lost a beloved pet.

Sometimes while giving our friends rides, you’d also give rides to their little brothers and sisters. I remember when you once took our young neighbors along on an errand for their mom. Brad was maybe two, and little Pammie was just a baby. Brad stood between us, kind of tucked behind your right shoulder as you drove. I held the baby, and none of us had on seat belts because I think it was only 1962. The older siblings were in the back seat, and I’m sure we all arrived safely.

Now, even though everyone wears seat belts–including children in heavy-duty safety seats (in the back seat, of course), I still resort to a safety technique I learned from you. If I have to stop or slow down quickly when I’m driving, my right arm automatically flies out to protect my passenger, even if it’s my husband, Jim. He just smiles, but our policeman son-in-law probably thinks it’s nuts. Old safety driving habits die hard, even when we’re using seatbelts.

I think you’d probably be glad you’re not driving any more, Mom.  In addition to seat belt laws, there are now laws against using cell phones or texting while driving, and some states are starting to fine drivers who engage in any activity that might distract them. (Which, in your case, Mom, would mean no putting on lipstick while you’re behind the wheel.)

Still, I smile and feel perfectly safe remembering your right arm flying out to protect your passengers, and the gentle, comforting way you patted Stardust’s head as you drove her to the vet’s.

You were a good driver, and you were–and still are–a good mom. But just between us, when you and I are out together on a ride, I get a kick out of buying us ice cream cones and eating them IN the car.

Love, Marylin

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Filed under driving laws, friends, lessons about life, making a difference, memories for grandchildren, neighbors