This is a wonderful piece by Michael Gartner, former editor of newspapers large and small, and former president of NBC News. In 1997, he won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. It is well worth reading and a few good chuckles are guaranteed. Enjoy.
'In those days,' he told me when he was in his 90s, 'to drive a car you had to do things with your hands ,and do things with your feet, and look every which way, and I decided you could walk through life and enjoy it or drive through life and miss it.' At which point my mother, a sometimes salty Irishwoman, chimed in: 'Oh, bull----!' she said. 'He hit a horse.'
The neighbors all had cars the Kollings next door had a green 1941 Dodge, the VanLaninghams across the street a gray 1936 Plymouth, the Hopsons two doors down a black 1941 Ford -- but we had none. My father, a newspaperman in Des Moines, would take the streetcar to work and, often as not, walk the 3 miles home. If he took the streetcar home, my mother and brother and I would walk the three blocks to the streetcar stop, meet him and walk home together.
It was a four-door, white model, stick shift, fender skirts, loaded with everything, and, since my parents didn't drive, it more or less became my brother's car. Having a car but not being able to drive didn't bother my father, but it didn't make sense to my mother. So in 1952, when she was 43 years old, she asked a friend to teach her to drive.. She learned in a nearby cemetery, the place where I learned to drive the following year and where, a generation later, I took my two sons to practice driving. The cemetery probably was my father's idea. 'Who can your mother hurt in the cemetery?' I remember him saying more than once.
For the next 45 years or so, until she was 90, my mother was the driver in the family. Neither she nor my father had any sense of direction, but he loaded up on maps -- though they seldom left the city limits -- and appointed himself navigator. It seemed to work. Still, they both continued to walk a lot. My mother was a devout Catholic, and my father an equally devout agnostic, an arrangement that didn't seem to bother either of them through their 75 years of marriage (Yes, 75 years, and they were deeply in love the entire time.)
I miss him a lot, and I think about him a lot. I've wondered now and then how it was that my family and I were so lucky that he lived so long. I can't figure out if it was because he walked through life, or because he quit taking left turns.
Life is too short to wake up with regrets. So love the people who treat you right. Forget about those who don't. Believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would most likely be worth it.