Keep on Truckin’

Learning to drive in “Old Nellie” with Dad hanging on for dear life by her side, this former farm gal has come full circle.

My life on the farm was quiet, but never boring. Growing up with older parents in a remote location may be too sedate for some, but for this country girl, it was the right place to be. It formulated who I would become, how I would conduct my life and enhanced my natural instinct to care, share and nurture.

Everyday life was filled with tending to baby rabbits; feeding piglets; delivering kids (goats, not humans); corralling chickens (it’s like herding cats!); training, riding and falling off of horses; gardening; helping the neighbours get the hay inside before it rained, and so on. It was glorious, to me at least.

But the most special time of all was learning to drive my dad’s truck. It wasn’t anything special as trucks go, just your ordinary half-ton GMC, with a “three on the tree” manual shift on the steering column. I’d learn to clutch and shift without stalling and then coax “her” into a steady first gear. Why it was a “her” I never knew, but Nellie was her name. Clutch, shift into second and oh my, we are going fast now! Clutch, shift into third and you are thrumming along with the wind whipping in the window, tousling my red hair. I thought I was the cat’s pajamas!

Dad (aka H. Lloyd Johnson, Lloyd to most folks) would be hanging on to the dash and the door frame, shouting, “For God’s sakes girl, slow down!”

But he always took me out to try again and again. That half a mile on a gravel road seemed like Mosport in the summer—ha!

Keep On Truckin 2Courtesy MaryLou Johnson
MaryLou and hubby, Michael.

Fast forward: parents gone, farm sold, two marriages, two children, nursing career, city living, new career path and the ability to meet terrific people in various hospitals across the city. I’m closer to 60 than 50 these days. I have grandchildren, and yes, a third husband, who goes by the name Michael Mackin. (I got it right this time—third time is the charm!)

What do I look forward to now? You guessed it. A truck. A nice, new, shiny truck. It has to be red, metallic red. It needs a crew cab, of course, for the grandkids. Six cylinders, not eight—Dad would spin if he saw the price of gas now! And automatic transmission, sorry, but I’m not teaching my grandkids how to drive a manual stick. Oh no, I praise my dad and his perseverance in teaching me to drive, but I haven’t got his fearless genes!

“I want to buy a truck,” I voiced to Michael one day, who wisely agreed, saying it would be a good idea. So I got it—my very own truck. I’ve come full circle in my life. Maybe I should bring home a couple of chickens for the balcony… in my new truck!

Next, read the incredible story of how one man missed out on his dream car as a teenager, then found it parked in his driveway 25 years later!

Originally Published in Our Canada