Choosing Happy Memories on Father’s Day – Part I

It has been four years since my father passed away, (June 10) but I am glad that he did not leave before Father’s Day despite the circumstances.

It feels just like yesterday when I think about visiting him for nearly the last time and how it hurt, but I had to go and tell him how much I loved and appreciated the man that he had been and still was regardless of his condition.

I know that he heard me because he did not fail to make eye contact, although he shifted his gaze away from me when I began to cry.

I consider my dad to be the first Iron Man, because when we (his kids) were young and would ask him why he never caught a cold or the flu when everyone else in the house would be sick, he would tell us  that it was because he was made of iron.

He really did have a strong immune system and I truly cannot remember him being ill with the exception of when his health finally began to fail.

Having seen him as the strongest man in my world all those years changed dramatically when the end began – not that I didn’t realize that anyone including him could and would eventually become a weaker version of themselves before eventually leaving this world. I guess the contrast was so profound that I had a hard time accepting it.

Anyway, my post will not be an elaboration of the sad times, but rather the good ones and there literally are too many to put in one post, so I will choose one particular incident that at that time evoked every emotion in my mind from unmitigated fear to sheer relief. I am sure that you will recognize all the in-betweens upon reading what happened, so here it is.

Choosing Happy Memories on Father’s Day – Part 1

The summer of 1988 was an important period in life for me and my family as I had graduated (with honors) and was surprised to see that my dad had driven my graduation gift into the driveway for me to see just as he pulled up.

My parents could be deliciously sneaky when bearing gifts to their children for a job well done, but they couldn’t wait to see my reaction.

I was really was proud and happy that they had thought enough of me to do this, so I relished in their enjoyment of taking pictures of me posing alongside my ‘ride’ which would by no means be driven by me once I was on my way to college.

They didn’t expect it of me and neither did I, so after all the preliminaries, I thanked them happily and went back into my room to finish the novel that I had been reading.

I could hear my parents laughing from the kitchen about how ‘excited’ I was not which I felt was to be expected as I had inherited my father’s pleasantly nonchalant attitude on just about everything. I knew they expected me to at least ask if I could take the car for a little spin (with supervision of course), so my indifference added a bit more hilarity to the situation.

It was not that I didn’t intend to drive the car – I just didn’t feel like it right then.

My dad had already taught me to drive, but I lacked the usual eagerness to ‘paint the town red’ or to roam freely as my peers so radically contemplated…I was perfectly happy sitting on the passenger’s side or the back seat while someone else did the work and I still feel the same way today.

Although I had done well enough with basic driving practice and studying ‘the book’ for licence readiness, I still had a bit of difficulty with parking, namely with backing in, so on the weekend before my test, Dad and I went to the driving center after they closed for a little practice so I could master this particular feat.

Practice went well. I had tweaked my left and right turns, so it was time for me to move over to watch my father maneuver the wheel for backing into the parking space.

He knew that it took me a while to grab the concept of being in reverse and turning steering one way while vehicle went another, and I had to get out of the car to watch again – several times until the gist and my brain were finally in agreement.

I was ready to try it for myself!

My dad moved to the passenger’s seat so I could get started. The first thing I did after adjusting the seat and mirrors was to turn up the radio…it was after five and they were playing a series of my favorite rap songs, so I turned it up a bit.

My dad said I could listen to whatever I wanted (he was not a fan of rap) as long I could concentrate on what I was doing and if the radio helped me to relax, then by all means go for it.

He also suggested that I did not turn the music up too loud.

I felt that he had given this suggestion strictly because of his personal opinion of rap music and loud being equal to a noisome pestilence such as the Exodus’s plague of locusts gradually ravaging an already struggling but hopeful society.

I put the car in reverse and gently hit the gas. It went over pretty smoothly except for some lingering nervousness about my steering (warning #1) but Dad said that I would simply do it over until I got it right.

I pulled up and tried again…this time I got in straight, but I felt a little bump. I had hit the walk-way in front of the building. With his usual cool, calm and collected self, my father said, “Okay, you pulled back a little too far this time, so try it again but I’m gonna get out and motion for when you need to stop.”

He made his exit and stood on the walkway of the building, waiting for me to pull up and repeat. I turned the radio up more than a bit more this time to help me shake the nerves off and because he was out of the car.

They were playing L.L. Cool J’s “I’m Bad” so this was quite fitting as my confidence level increased, knowing that I had the steering down pat. I just needed to tweak my stopping point.

I rapped a few lines along with L.L. and told myself that I too was ‘bad’ and totally ready to back my car into any one of the lame spaces just sitting there waiting to be conquered by my new-found and fearless coordinated ingenuity!

The following Monday would be the day I would take and pass my driving test and would soon be taking my younger sister and niece riding – not far from home, but riding non-the-less.

I would also be driving around the neighborhood for my friends (right) to see that I could do anything that anyone else could do…and on my weekend visits from college, I would even be able to pick up groceries for Mom – what a rebel I would be!

Feeling mentally strong and physically together, I put the car in reverse while bobbing my head to the beat.

This is the point where things changed but unfortunately, they did not change for the better.



5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ckisler
    Jun 17, 2013 @ 08:26:49

    Waiting for the Rest of the STORY…you, Rapping Girl!


  2. Jacquelyn Norman
    Jun 17, 2013 @ 12:05:03

    Charlie I love this and although I know how it ends I can’t wait to read it


  3. buildingalifeofhope
    Jun 18, 2013 @ 05:34:54

    Love it so far.. here I go to Part II!


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