One of my father’s most prized possessions was his 1979 Ford F150 pickup. I recall the day (sometime in the early ’80s) when we drove away from Afmuth Motors in Tucson, my sister and I still small enough to stand on its long bench seat. My dad lovingly named his truck Brute, and it would forever be called The Brute in every memory going forward. The Brute was my dad’s weekend truck. It took us to every family function and to grandma’s house on the weekends. The Brute became a bonafide member of our family.
After a while it seemed that you couldn’t tell where my dad ended, and the Brute began. My dad’s beloved truck took us down every dirt road in this county and four wheeled in places most folks had never been.
The first vehicle I ever drove was my dad’s beloved truck. I remember the day so clearly. It was Labor Day weekend the year I turned 15. On a narrow two track road hugging the side of an embankment my dad stopped the truck and told me to drive. It was either drive or never get the chance again.
I scooted over the bench seat and grabbed the wheel. I remember tears building up and me choking them down as the Brute creeped along the narrow road. My dad guided me up the embankment (the only way to get around a huge hole) and he kept reminding me that I just needed to let the truck drive. In his mind the Brute knew what to do and he wasn’t worried at all that his 15-year-old daughter was at the wheel. I managed to drive the heck out of that truck that day but it would be many years before I ever drove it again.
As the years went on, the love my dad had for his truck never waned. If it broke down, he’d fix it. If the tires were worn, he’d replace them. Towards the latter part of his life the Brute, like him, seemed to start to fade. Through my dad’s illness he’d go out and tighten and retighten bolts. He’d back it in and out of the yard until eventually the Brute sat locked up in the back yard, undriven. I swear when you looked at the truck, it looked heartbroken.
Soon after my father died, my mother gifted me with the Brute and I panicked. I couldn’t face it and I certainly couldn’t drive it. It was like a tomb with all the relics of my dad still in place. His sunglasses still sat on the dashboard. Behind the seat were his tools and tow straps. His smell still permeated the seats.
Many things have transpired since receiving my dad’s truck and I’m happy to say that it now sits in my driveway in Patagonia where it belongs. I eventually got brave enough to drive it and just the other day we locked the hubs and got ourselves out of a precarious situation.
If you see me coming in that 1979 Ford F150 please know that I’m spending time with my dad, the best way I know how, by just letting the truck drive.