There was a large truck with a closed aluminum trailer on the back, moving very erratically down the highway. A state trooper watched as the truck would go fast for about a mile, lose speed and then come to a stop on the shoulder. The driver got out, took a long stick and began to beat the side of the trailer. After about three minutes of hard pounding, the driver jumped into the truck and drove off, only to repeat the same thing after a few miles. The trooper’s curiosity got the best of him and he pulled the guy over.
The truck driver explained, “Officer, this is a one-ton truck and I’m trying to haul two tons of canaries. So, I have to keep half of them in the air at all times.”
That story sort of describes the Davis household. I have a stressful job and so did school teacher Sheri, and sometimes we felt like were are driving that truck and beating the side of it. I would say to her, “Okay, I won’t talk about the church tonight if you won’t talk about school.”
That was followed by: “So, let’s meet at the ballgame tonight and have supper there. Then when we get home at about 8:30, you go to the grocery store and I will give Natalie a bath.” Then there were papers to grade and clothes to wash. Got to keep those canaries in the air!
Is that your life? Add to that the normal stuff that comes up between two people living under the same roof, things like personality differences, and parenting styles and “I’m cold-natured and he’s hot natured,” etc. and you’ve got some stress in your marriage.
So, with Father’s Day this Sunday, I’m thinking about such things.
Maybe we would all have a little less stress if we would lower our expectations. I couldn’t help but think about the vows I took at our wedding. Nobody could ever live up to them, and to think, “I said them before God and everybody.”
The vows that Sheri and I took were not traditional and included such lines as “be sensitive to your every thought.” Who could ever do that? I vowed, “I will be considerate of your every need.” Well, I failed again. “Patient with your every weakness,” we said before the preacher on June 18, 1988. After several years of marriage, she said, “I didn’t know you had so many weaknesses.”
We set up some pretty unrealistic expectations. I should have made some more reasonable vows, like “I vow to try to be a decent husband on Saturday afternoons in the fall.”
I was driving the by-pass one day and there were several cars in front, behind me and one on my right. We were blissfully ignoring each other because we were going about the same speed and in the same direction. UNTIL! Until the lady driving the car to my right suddenly decided she wanted in my lane. And apparently without looking, she decided to swerve over and take my lane.
I laid on the horn, swerved, hit the brakes and narrowly avoided an accident. As I passed her, I saw a trembling woman, gripping the steering wheel, eyes straight ahead. My natural instinct was to shake my fist at her with righteous indignation. She wouldn’t look my way.
What happened after that is what we have all experienced. I felt anger and fright, but also a bit of shame for having those feelings toward this old woman. She had invaded my space and threatened my life and made me angry, but I also had not responded to the threat in a way that I wish I had. I was nowhere near wanting to forgive her and “turning the other cheek (fender)” had not entered my mind.
There was an award-winning movie a few years ago about driving, titled Driving Miss Daisy. It should have been called Driving with Miss Daisy, because no one really drove Miss Daisy – her son couldn’t nor could Hoke her driver. Miss Daisy had a strong will, spunk, dignity, and determination. Ultimately, Hoke and Miss Daisy had to learn to drive with each other. Two people who were so separated by age, race, social class, temperament, conflicts and culture, became best of friends. They discovered that they possessed the same fears, disappointments and needs. It was this discovery which allowed them to drive with each other.
What was true for Hoke and Miss Daisy is true for us. We’ve made commitments, in spite of the stress of the highway, to love and to understand one another, and to drive “with” each other in this wonderful experience called family.
So, happy Father’s Day.
Dr. Steve Davis