Stan's Tuesday Walks

A Weekly Feature
by Stan Evans,
President, Santa Fe Always Online


November 20, 2001

The first thing that came to mind when I got up this morning at 5:45 was my mother. With three of her friends she took off Monday morning on a driving vacation to Mexico. All four have been to Mexico many times, but this was their first time to drive there.

My mother is 84. She is the senior of the group, but the other three have also been Social Security-qualified for years. To be a little more accurate, the youngest of the four could work, if she wanted, and it would not affect her Social Security. I can't think of any other way to say it and not get myself in trouble, should they read this article.

When I tried to tell Mother that I thought that it would be much better to fly, especially with the fares being so low—and what if they had car trouble?—she asked how did I think she took care of herself before I was around to advise her.

My mother has always been independent and daring. She drives a five-speed red convertible, and I'm talking standard shift. When I was a kid we called a car like that four on the floor. Well, this one is five on the floor.

One day she decided she needed a new car, and she wanted a red one. The first she found was this five-speed convertible. She was already 80 and hadn't driven a straight stick for many years. The salesman gave her a lesson on operating the manual transmission. But the only gears she could remember afterward were first and second. So she drove home using just those gears, and then learned one new gear per week until she got them all. At least she says she did. I can’t recall her ever using more than three.

A similar story happened when she bought her first car in 1935, at the age of 18. She didn’t know how to drive at all then, and was living with her parents in El Rito, a village 60 miles north of Santa Fe. She bought the car in Espanola, about 30 miles away. The salesman gave her a quick driving lesson, and off she chugged, back to her parents’ home. When she arrived, she parked with the front of the car against the fence that surrounded the yard. The next day when she needed to drive to work, my grandfather had to take down the fence, because neither he nor my mother knew the car had reverse.

Anyway, off went the four senoras to Mexico, while I stayed behind to worry about how my little mother and her friends were going to handle the highways down there. Immediately bad thoughts came to mind. I mean, I can just see my mother or one of the other ladies trying to change a flat tire. I would be willing to bet my mother doesn't even know where the jack is in her car.

I can picture my mother, as the senior of the group, giving instructions to one of the other ladies. "Now, get under the car and put the jack under the axle." And that lady saying, "Where is the jack?" and my mother saying, “I don’t know.” In some cars the jack is in a special compartment under the floor of the trunk, and in some cars it is not in the trunk at all. Should they be lucky enough to find the jack and position it in the right place, and if somebody has the strength to jack the car up, well, then I wonder who is going to take off the lug nuts. Maybe they thought all this out before they left. But I have my doubts.

I’m not too worried about the bandits that occasionally rob tourists. I’m sure my mother could talk her way out of that situation. "Listen, you bandido,” I can see her saying, “I have a kid older you and I can handle him easy, so don't get me mad.”

I know she's having a good time while I'm fretting about her. And when she gets back, I'm not going to say a word, because if I do she will just say, "Now you know what I went through when you were growing up." Touche.

I'm glad God only gave us one mother. Can you imagine trying to worry about several at one time? I know, I know. I can just hear you mothers with more than one child telling me what it’s like. But I can't imagine. Anyway, will I ever be glad when my mother gets back! Mom, I promise not to bother you in the future if you’ll just promise to get home safe.

Have a great day.

Stan

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