Changing Drivers

Driving at Laguna Seca Race Track- Nov 10, 2012

To say my husband loved cars would be an understatement. He bought them as often as he did new shoes. He liked them curvy and fast.  When I complained about his vice, he would reply with a sly smile,

“Hey, it could be gambling or women.”

I would just role my eyes.

Every year Scott and his father would get away together to drive cars at a Mercedes’s driving course.  This last year he was so excited because they didn’t have to follow the pace car! I missed out on hearing about their last adventure because they never arrived home.  A plane accident claimed both of their lives over the mountains of California.

I often complained that my husband always got to be the race car driver while I was resigned to pit crew.

We married just after my first semester at college.  We were both bright, on full scholarship, going-somewhere kind of people.  When we decided to get married so young we talked about managing careers and family. Scott desperately wanted to go to medical school.  He told me that he had decided that it would be too difficult to raise a family and follow that dream, so he had decided to forgo medical school and work for his dad.  He said that he didn’t think he could find a wife who could support him through that.  He sited the high divorce rates.

Family was everything to Scott.

I remember the long pause as he looked directly in my eyes and said,

“But I think now that you could help me do it.”

I was young and naive and thinking that I knew everything that was involved because I remembered my father going to dental school, I smiled back and said,

“Let’s do it.”

That decision meant putting my own career, dreams and aspirations aside.  We wanted a family, and we knew the best way to tackle that was for me to remain at home with the children and fulfill a supporting role so that he could further his education and provide for our family.  So off we went, finishing college in 3 years for him and 2 years for me. My husband was awarded one of 40 spots at The MAYO CLINIC’s prestigious medical school. We spent the next 8 years at MAYO for medical school and residency.  Our four children were born there, and I remained at home as their teacher, tutoring physics and math on the side and teaching art lessons to students in my home.  I did everything I could to aid my husband so he could focus on his schooling.  My role did not include awards or commendations, but I learned to proudly say that I was my kid’s mom when asked what I did for a living. At my husband’s professional functions, I often added the information that I had a physics degree. I wanted people to know that I wasn’t just a housewife, but that I as a bright, capable person I had chosen this role to help our family, especially our children.


Still, it was hard for me to sit back in the shadows while my husband raked in all the praise.  There isn’t a lot of fame and fortune in changing dirty diapers, helping a child to read, or having dinner waiting on the table for an overworked, tired husband.  Sometimes I complained with a pout,

You always get to be the race car driver and I always get to be pit crew!”

Sometimes I so yearned to take the wheel myself.

After Scott’s death I found myself standing in front of the mirror, looking deeply into my own eyes.

“How am I going to do this alone?” I thought.

My partner had been with me since before my single life had even begun.  I felt lost and scared. Then I heard these words in the back of my mind…

“It’s your turn to take the wheel.”

I remember bursting out in tears,

“But I don’t really want to drive.  I take it back! I will be more content being pit crew!”

The reply was simple,

“No sweetheart, it’s YOUR turn.  I know you can do it.”

After nearly 11 months, I am still sliding dangerously through the corners, not giving it full throttle on the straightaways, but I am getting the feel of the road underneath my tires.  I am exploring this new track and I am find joy in the journey.

It’s scary at times.

I still cry out that I’m done driving and wish he could come back and take the wheel.  I would happily scoot over to the passenger seat if that were possible, but the car needs a driver and I am getting better at that role.  I am finding confidence and new direction in my life.  It surprises me that the track takes unexpected turns.  I am learning to be prepared for those so that I spend less time in the dirt off the road.  I am learning to listen to the still small inner voice that  directs me to the best path.  I am learning to have faith and trust in my God and his plan for me and my family.  I may not be the same kind of driver  that my husband was, but like him, I will follow the master driver, my pace car.  By following Him, I will best navigate the track, getting through the difficult turns and improving my times.  I am learning that I don’t need to be in front, and in fact I do much better following Him.

21 years ago when I started this journey in the passenger seat, I never dreamed that we would be on this track and that I would have taken over the wheel.

Life is like that.

It never turns out the way we expect or plan, but in the end I have learned that the struggles are always better for our individual growth.

Miss you honey, can’t wait for you to relieve me, but until that time I will do my best behind the wheel.


Questions to Ponder:

1. In what ways can you be courageous and step up and take the wheel?

2. How does trusting God help you do scary and hard things?


  1. wrote on October 17th, 2013 at 4:17 am

    S T FIN

    You have a strength within you that shines for the world to don’t know me but a very touching story .