I was alone in the car with my father,
Hundreds of miles away from home;
He was a traveling salesman,
And on this trip I came along.
There were seventeen summers behind me,
Yet, I was still quite the child;
I had not even come close to being a man,
My imagination was running wild.
When you’re one of seven children,
With your Dad there’s no time to bind,
So, you take advantage of these situations
That you’re lucky enough to find.
We talked over the radio,
While milepost markers passed us by;
He shared years of his wisdom with me,
Helping separate truths from the lies.
He spoke words of praise and confidence;
Feelings I never knew,
I heard him say for the first time,
“Joe, I’m awful proud of you.”
He said, “Johnny is my first son,
That’s a special relationship for a man;
Jimmy and I are more like each other,
Than I bet you can ever imagine.
But, in you I see a mirror,
Of the boy I used to be,
I hope I can’t make this any clearer,
I want you to achieve much more than me.”
We went from Dayton to Indianapolis
With a couple of quick stops in between.
Went to dinner with a client,
Had my first beer at seventeen.
Headed down into Memphis,
Then to Nashville, Tennessee,
Miles of roads and memories left behind us,
Just the old man and me.
I watched him working on his clients,
Treating each one like his best friend;
He said, “Life is all about how you treat folk,
More important than making a deal, in the end.”
I don’t know if his trip was a success
On the sales ledger sheet that he kept,
But it was a success for my development,
Measured by the amount of tears that we wept.
This was the week that really changed things
Between me and my, Dad;
Entering my last year in High School,
These were the most important lessons I ever had.