This is my middle child, Don. He’s the quiet one in the family, also the one who has given me the most gray hair. Don was such a sweet baby, never any trouble, always so sweet and quiet. After the volcano effect of his older sister I had trouble remembering there was a baby in the house.
He’s not only handsome, he’s also very intelligent. From the time he was small he could look at a situation from all sides and figure out a solution that would work. It impressed everyone who came in contact with him, so I have always thought that he is actually the smartest child I have, although he will tell you Gina has that honor. Gina studied constantly, Don never brought a book home with him, yet he maintained a steady B average. Yet he insists that if he had studied he probably would not have made it thru high school. We obviously have different opinions on that one.
After his sweet babyhood (is that a word?), his quiet, contemplative childhood (sometimes), ah, heck, I’ll just tell it like it is. Don isn’t a saint. His dad brought home a 3-wheeler one day, and Don learned to drive it at a very young age. He and Mike both learned to drive it, as well as driving the farm trucks. With the big trucks one of them operated the gear shift and steering wheel while the other was on the floor operating the pedals. I often looked out a window and saw a seemingly driverless truck going by and would just have to close the curtains or go to another room. That 3-wheeler though–that was a whole ‘nother story. It turned my sweet little boys into dare devils.
Their uncle gave them some water skis one year, for what reason I’ll never know. We had a deep snow that winter, and one day I heard “hey mom, look at us!” When I went to the window I saw the 3-wheeler zipping by with Don at the wheel and Mike behind, on water skis, hanging onto a rope, being pulled down the drive at breakneck speed. As I watched in horror Don turned the 3-wheeler around the curve in the drive, and Mike — didn’t make the turn. He didn’t keep on going either. There is a huge difference between water skis and snow skis. They really aren’t interchangeable. But — we had enough snow to cushion the fall so there were no broken bones, and the next time around the boys had switched places and it was Don who went down. Kidz!
A few years later their dad came home with the first of many 4-wheelers. That began Don’s life long love affair with that particular piece of equipment. He no longer walked across the farm — he drove the 4-wheeler. When he got a tractor or truck hung up he came to the house, got me and the 4-wheeler, stuck me on the back, then drove us thru every mud puddle he could find to the stuck equipment, drove back to get another tractor or truck, and came back to pull the stuck one out. I should add here that he never got any mud on himself because he was protected by the thingy on the front that protects the driver. The unlucky person hanging on for dear life behind the driver (me) was the one who ended up wearing half the farm on her jeans as she walked back to the house, because one trip behind Don was enough.
Then Don was old enough for a driver’s license and his own pickup truck. No girly cars for that guy. He drove to school, after the first time, alone, because he also scared Mike. He had a habit of pulling out into traffic without looking both ways. He always looked to the left, but never to the right. After the first driving lesson I gave it up because I wasn’t particularly suicidal at the time. Later I was’t so sure, but that day, no. Then after getting the license, he was taking Mike to school and Mike made him stop in the creek bottoms and let him out.
When he started college at the University of Kentucky, he and his sister drove home together one time. After that one time they were never together in the same vehicle when he was driving, and of course it would be an affront to his dignity to let his sister drive him, so they came home on alternate weekends. Don wrecked his third pickup on one of his trips home. As I said earlier, he didn’t look both ways when he pulled out into traffic. That night he apparently didn’t look either way, because he came off the Bluegrass Parkway onto I-65 in front of an 18-wheeler. The bumper of the 18-wheeler came into the driver’s side window, wrapped itself inside there, picked up the smaller truck and pushed it down I-65 while the terrified driver tried to bring it to a stop. Those trucks don’t exactly stop on a dime. I had always thought Don’s truck was totalled, until he was here a few weeks ago and I was telling my mom about that night. Don informed me that after they removed the 18-wheeler from the pickup it was fine. They just had to put some plastic sheeting in the broken window and Mike drove it for a few more years.
Don did total one pickup though. He was running an errand for his dad one Saturday and looked at a map while doing a few miles (?) above the speed limit on a winding country road, when he ran off that road and upended the truck in a deep ditch. He can’t remember a lot about it, but does remember digging his way out of the back window, crawling up the side of the ditch, and walking up to a farm house. He said a kid answered the door and stared at him for a minute before asking, “Are you dead?” Don laughingly told him he probably was, so the kid ran screaming for his dad, they called me, and since I have no sense of direction I sent his dad out to find him and bring him home, or take him to the ER, whichever looked like he needed it most. I really wasn’t indifferent about it all, just knew those men in my family.
Don’s married now, and finally settled down, but still plays with 4-wheelers. He built a special garage behind his house for his 4-wheeler collection, and he and his friends get together every year for a week in the West Virginia mountains to play with their toys. He has two grandsons who love to play with them also. I don’t know. It’s a Don thing.