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Uncle Billy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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“Okay, Emily, slow down now. Slow down! Brake, Emily, brake!” These words were commonly heard in any vehicle I was driving when I had my learner’s permit. I was told I had a “lead foot” and that I drove like a race car driver, never slowing down until the last possible second. However, there was one person I practiced driving with who didn’t mind my speedy driving and last-minute braking because he enjoys NASCAR races and drives just like I used to – my Uncle Billy.

Uncle Billy was always willing to let me slip into the driver’s seat of his 2005 Chrysler 300 with a brand-new deep blue grill. Okay, I know what you’re thinking: Who in the world lets a 16-year-old drive an almost new Chrysler 300? His car was his baby, and I was the only person he let drive it – with my learner’s permit, no less. But Uncle Billy trusted me behind the wheel, and he didn’t want to change my style of driving, rather just tweak it.

Uncle Billy would sit in the passenger seat and help me with everything. He was so different from my mother, who was scared to go over 35. My uncle understood the need to keep up with the flow of traffic, and would let me know what I should do without being annoying or pestering. He would help me in situations when I didn’t know what to do, and when a driver needed to be cursed at for cutting me off, he showed me how it was done. He was so happy to see me drive.

Sadly, last week my Uncle Billy passed away from leukemia. It was a really hard time for me, especially every time I saw his car just sitting in the driveway. But I know he would be so proud of me, since I now have my full license and my own car. I know how to service my car – putting air in the tires, changing the power steering fluid, checking the oil – just as he taught me.

When I think back to the times when my Uncle Billy would pick me up from school and let me drive home, I can only be happy. He was so eager to teach me to drive and he wanted me to be the best at it. I’ve come a long way since my learner’s permit, and I know he couldn’t be more proud. Whenever I drive or I see an old car, I’ll always think of Uncle Billy.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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