The Working Title Is… Embracing Each MILEstone

This week, I will experience something for the very first time in my life.

The exact hour and location are yet to be determined, but, at some point, the odometer of my car will roll over to read 100,000 miles.

Ok, they don’t technically “roll over” anymore, but “digitally advance” doesn’t seem to capture the drama I’m feeling.

During a road trip last week, I reflected on the impending six-digit milestone of our 2010 Ford Expedition. I considered all the roads I’ve traveled and hours I’ve logged behind the wheel.

As the brilliant fall colors lit up both sides of the highway, I wondered how many times I’ve looked out these windows trying to convince myself that the deer laying on the side of the road was just really sleepy and picked a precarious spot to nap.

This wonderful car carries even more memories than miles, and currently counts zero accidents, one bizarre encounter with a bird, two speeding tickets and three really ill-timed breakdowns.

Both of my girls first learned how to drive in this car. The passenger armrest has embedded impressions of my fingernails as proof.

This car has carried Christmas trees and couches, groceries and golf clubs. It has been filled with items draped in nervous excitement en route to my daughter’s freshman dorm room, and items cradled in melancholy resolve after closing up the house my parents bought more than a half century earlier.

I would be embarrassed to admit the actual number of drive thru windows this car has seen, the number of mini-road rage swear words this car has heard or the number of parallel parking bumper taps this car has felt.

But, for me, what is most special about this car is the fact that my husband bought it for us. He sat in the driver seat. His hands held this steering wheel. He drove and played games and sang on what was to be our last family vacation to Florida for Easter 2010.

The few months that followed registered trips to places we never saw coming: doctor’s offices, hospitals, a funeral home and a cemetery.

So many miles saw me engaged in a form of distracted driving that didn’t involve technology, but rather all-consuming thoughts. The “what if” and “what now” internal conversations happened while the car was experiencing some form of sacred cruise control because I always arrived safely at my destination but not always aware of how I got there.

When that odometer finally hits 100K, I am certain I’ll try to connect some deep dramatic meaning to my exact location, where I’m headed or what song is playing on the radio.

I know I will glance in the rearview mirror surprised over the distance we’ve traveled since those trips we had hoped to never take.

And I will grasp that steering wheel for strength as we move forward, determined and hopeful that the miles ahead will be happy ones.




13 thoughts on “The Working Title Is… Embracing Each MILEstone

  1. pam gray says:

    Katie, you are a gift to all who know you. You give us cause to pause and reflect on our own “rear view mirrors” but always looking to the journey ahead. Thanks.


  2. Katie, isn’t it hard to let go off the things that are wrapped into our memories. I still have TJs favorite stuffed animals boxed away in the basement; he thinks I’m crazy for saving them. I also have his Rubbermaid container of Lego blocks that he was quite possessive of. I had strick orders to never take them into my classroom, like so many other toys and books he saw when he came to my classroom. I also have my first teddy bear and stuffed animal my maternal grandmother made for me. Too many memories. I love the song by Lonestar called “One More Day”. It is a wish we all have to go back and collect special memories just one more time. Life just goes by too darn fast. I’m glad we have our memories! Dawn McDaniel-Smith


  3. Kathleen Barthel Parks…you never cease to amaze me. Rock on for starting this blog. As I read it thru my tears, I just happened to be sitting in my car (parked outside Total Wine but I digress…) so I looked at my own odometer. I’m at mile “I don’t know where to go from here”. Thanks for bringing some perspective and smiles into my day at that moment. And remember – as you grasp the steering wheel for strength, many, many hands are grasping it with you. I’d even be willing to drive you. Love Always, Jackie


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