At the ripe old age of 4, I learned how to drive. Every Sunday morning, after church, I would crawl into my dad’s lap and “drive” up our driveway. When I got older, he bought a Jeep that he would let me drive to the run down mall a few miles from our house and around the old, abandoned parking lot.
The Jeep my dad bought was an old 1990, white, 2 door Jeep Wrangler. It never would never get over 45 mph and we had to crank down the windows. Regardless of how the passenger side door would jam, forcing you to crawl through the window, or how much it rattled and shook driving down the street, I always felt like the coolest kid when my dad would pull up in carpool.
Thinking about driving that old Jeep will forever put a smile on my face. The memories in that Jeep with my dad are priceless. The amount of times I’d hear, “Natalie! Come help take this top off and we’ll go riding around,” are countless.
My dad and I would get up at 6 a.m. on Saturday mornings and I’d have the very important job of helping him back his truck up to the horse trailer. Once we had the horses loaded, we drove two hours south to Walnut, Mississippi to my grandfather’s farm.
We’d spend the two hours mostly in silence with me changing the radio station, not finding anything good and finally giving up and plugging in his phone. At the same time we’d say, “Turn it up!” as Sweet Home Alabama started filling the empty space of the truck and we’d sing in harmony. I’d go between jammin’ out on the guitar and killing it on the piano while dad randomly finished the end of selective verses, and we’d both hit every single “Sweet Home Alabama” chorus together.
Alan Jackson describes his daughters’ childhood by saying, “I let them drive my old jeep across the pasture at our home. Maybe one day they’ll reach back in their file and pull out that old memory and think of me and smile.”
Most of the car rides spent with my dad are some of my favorite memories. Whether it’s learning how to drive or discussing life, car rides with my dad are the best. Each of these songs have a special meaning in my heart. Now that I’m in college and away from home, whenever one of these songs come on, I’m right back to riding shotgun with my dad.