“My Father, the Truck Drivin’ Mormon,” Ensign, June 1986, 48
For thirty years, my father was a truck driver. Though truck drivers tend to be stereotyped as hard-living, rough-talking men, my father was neither of these. He lived the gospel, and he considered his job an opportunity to serve others and to teach them about the Church.
Once while checking over his truck at a rest area near Decatur, Texas, he noticed a car with a flat tire. Lying in front of the car was an obviously sick man, unable to finish changing the tire. Inside the car were the man’s worried wife and their small child. My father went over to them and asked if he could help. The woman explained that they needed to be in Wichita Falls the next day for a new job, but that her husband was too ill to loosen the lug nuts to change the tire. “I’ve been praying for somebody to come and help us,” she said.
Father had the new tire on in just a few minutes. The woman thanked him and asked how they could repay him. He felt impressed to tell them that he was a Mormon, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “There’s something I’d like you to do—take the opportunity to look at the Mormon Church, listen to the missionaries, go to church … I know it’s true.”
The woman was touched. “I promise I’ll find out more about your church,” she said.
My father has been the answer to more than one prayer. One night, while making a run to Kingman, Arizona, he saw what he thought was a small light a few yards off the side of the road. He felt impressed to stop even though he couldn’t see a car. He pulled over, got out of the truck, and walked toward the light. He found a young woman holding a small flashlight with almost-dead batteries. Her car had rolled down a ravine where it could not be seen from the road. Her friend was still in the car.
Father cut the seat belt and pulled the unconscious girl from the car. She regained consciousness several minutes later. Another motorist stopped to see what had happened and went for medical help. While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, the first young woman told him, “You don’t know how much I appreciate your help. I tried for two hours to get someone to stop.”
Father also felt the Lord’s protection in his own life. One night, about 2:30 A.M., he had just driven through Fort Worth, Texas, on his way to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He said of the experience: “I was driving alone. I had been driving too many hours and went to sleep while driving. I don’t know how long I was asleep, but I woke up suddenly and grabbed for the steering wheel. My hands had been at my sides. It happened very quickly, but as I was fighting to get my hands on the steering wheel to get control of the vehicle, I observed two arms with the shirt sleeves rolled up above the elbows and two hands holding the steering wheel. I recognized these arms and hands. I had watched them many times as a boy while Daddy drove his truck.
“I can’t explain how such an incident can occur, but I do know that I wasn’t driving the truck. I was asleep! The truck was running down the highway in the proper lane. There was traffic in both directions. Some way, Daddy was driving the truck for me.” His father had passed away some years before.
Yes, my father was a “truck drivin’ Mormon”—one who had a great testimony of the Lord’s work and who influenced others’ lives for good by his service and example—wherever and whenever he drove.
Joseph Wayne Richardson, the author’s father, was fatally injured in December 1984 when the truck he was driving hit some black ice.