When I turned 18, my father taught me how to drive. In the early summer evenings after the supper dishes were done, we left the confines of our small neighborhood and headed to the “back country” area of our town, where rolling and winding roads held very little traffic. With the car windows down inviting in the evening breeze, my father would light up a Tareyton cigarette and calmly begin his driving directives with me at the wheel.

“Always remember,” he instructed, “you control the car; the car doesn’t control you.” Two months later, he took me to the DMV for my test, and I got my driver’s license.

We then went on a search for a car of my own. We finally found one I could afford, a beautiful 1964 Ford Fairlane Sports Coupe, bright red, bucket seats and automatic transmission with a shifter on the floor. I blissfully drove it for the rest of that summer into the fall until winter arrived.

After the first snowstorm, my father and I headed out for a winter driving lesson. He picked an empty street off the main plowed highway. I drove cautiously down the snow-packed road.

“Go a little faster,” my father urged. “It’s OK. Go faster.” I did, and then he shouted, “Hit the brakes!” I slid out of control at what was probably just 20 miles per hour, coming to rest along the side of the road.

“Now you know what not to do,” he said. “I’ll show you what you should do.” And he did. So well that when driving winter roads, I can still hear his voice in my head when necessary, saying, “Don’t touch the brake! Steer into the skid; give it a little gas.”

My father passed away just short of five years into his retirement in Maine. I was devastated. A couple of weeks after his death, I had a dream that we were once again driving those rolling and winding back country roads in the Ford Fairlane on a lovely summer evening, chatting and enjoying each other’s company.

Suddenly we were pulled over by a Maine state trooper. My father turned to me and said, “I can’t go with you. I have to go with him.” He saw my stricken look. “Don’t worry,” he reassured me. “You’ll be all right. I’ll always be right behind you.”

He exited the passenger side, and in the rearview mirror I watched him walk to the trooper’s car. With his hand on the door handle, he stopped and looked back. He nodded once, opened the door and got in the cruiser. I pulled back onto the road, unsure and hesitating. I took a deep breath and then headed down the road, now all alone in the driver’s seat.