Choosing Happy Memories on Father’s Day – Part II

Choosing Happy Memories on Father’s Day – Part 2

Soooo, I checked my mirrors while still head-bobbing to the beat of whatever was playing. I could feel the bass vibrations as the reflection of my dad showed his calm yet attentive stance, arms folded, head shaking in a slow ‘no’  motion.

It was that familiar expression he always gave while watching someone being hell-bent and determined to make a valuable accomplishment by way of being stupid due to ignoring mentoring advice from a wiser source.

I was happy…excited even and ready to make my move backwards into the same parking space that had somehow in the span of about an hour become  a major challenge for my seventeen-year-old at-that-very-moment-happy-go-lucky-as-hell self. I knew that I could do it.

Despite the warning signal of the ‘no’ from my dad, I was ready and willing to succeed, so I hit the gas pedal ever so slightly and began to make my way in between the two lines indicating that I had indeed positioned myself correctly.

I pressed down a little more on the gas (music still bumping) and I thought that I heard something like a bump so I naturally assumed that I had hit the darned walkway again.

No problem…Im in straight, so all I need to do is pull up just a little bit, but to be sure that Daddy knows that I know what I’m doing, I’ll just do it over again.

I was not phased by a long-shot. Nothing could stop me now, because I really did know what I was doing…I just had to prove it this time!

Mirrors checked – I know where I am…my brain is now ready to send necessary signals for the purpose of coordination strategies as I have pulled all the way out of the space just to show what I have learned.

I reverse again and proceed back and whip the car (not a brand new one THANK GOD!) back into the parking space perfectly this time…windows still vibrating…I had done it! I even moved a little faster this time because I knew that my positioning was on point! “Whooooo!”

I looked into my side mirror in search of a thumbs up from my dad only to have the exhilarated exclamation upon my success instantly turn into worried curiosity! Where was he?

Maybe he went to take a pee around back, but to be sure,  I looked into the rear view mirror and then the passenger side mirror which is when the horror began. He was on his hands and knees with his head hung down looking so helpless – SHHHHIT!!! I had run my dad DOWN!

I put the car in park and flung the door open to run to him as he fell over onto his side and rolled over on his back with one arm holding his mid-section and the other arm flailing haphazardly with no specific determination.

I bent over him as my inner self exclaimed approximately five OMG’s in a row at lightening speed just before I asked if he was okay. He said nothing – only rolling from one side to the other with some type of wincing expression on his face that I had never seen…he was in pain!

I didn’t know what to do as the days of cell phones had not yet arrived and I thought about driving somewhere to get help, but that would take too long.

My heart was beating so fast that I thought I would collapse right beside him, but I had to keep my composure and get him to say something. “Daddy! Please say something! I’m so sorry I hit you, but please get up!”

The flailing hand began to wave a stopping motion and he finally spoke to me saying, “Please, Please! Stop talking! I’m not hurt but – ” “But Daddy, I hit you, and if I don’t get some kind of help you’re gonna die!!”

I was in tears and so was he, but somehow he was able to reply, “Yea child, I am dying but not because you hit me, I’m laughing myself to death! – Look over there!” He pointed in the direction where the driving center’s garbage dumpsters were.

There were two of them, and they were crushed between the wall of the building and…

my car.

The music was still playing – loudly.

I was confused now. All coordination and fearless indignation aside, I asked my dad once again if he was sure that he was all right.

He begged me yet again to not say anything because if I didn’t stop it, he would surely die right there and he didn’t want me to have to drive home. I could clearly see now that he was overcome by a serious bout of uncontrollable laughter to the point of tears and a stomach ache which was obvious by him having to speak to me between catching a much-needed breath.

“How in the world did you do that?” He had managed to get back on his knees in hopes of getting up when I asked, “Do what?” The laughing started again in the midst of a quick but earnest prayer for the Lord to please send him some help to get off of the ground.

I’m guessing that a light bulb must have popped on at some point and I helped my dad up, but he just had to do an impromptu ‘show and tell’ of my little mishap. “I ain’t never seen nothin’ like that in all of my years, and you did it twice! Just look at what you did to these folks stuff!”

I really looked this time and reality began to set in for me then as Daddy explained how I had backed into the dumpsters, pulled up, and ran into them yet again only harder the second time.

After putting the poor innocent bystanders who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time during my plight back where they belonged, now battered and bruised, we made it back to the car and my father of course insisted that he drive home while still laughing and catching his breath. “Well, I thought I heard a little bump at one time…” I tried to explain, but he would have none of it.

He stressed his wishes of me not saying anything more on the way home so that there would be no more accidents and that it would also be wise if I would refrain from iterating this unfortunate incident to anyone that I intended to take for a ride in the future. “I knew you should’ve turned that mess down, but I had to let you do it your way and now you know better don’t you. Just talk to your momma about it, but other than that, this will be our little secret…”

“Okay daddy…our little secret.”

We both wiped tears of laughter from our faces, he turned the radio to a gospel station – “For safety purposes,” he said jokingly, and we were on our way home.

Once there, the laughing began again – me, Momma, and Daddy…we all agreed that I need not broadcast the story until much later once my ‘attention skills’ had improved.

That day, my dad told me that he had never laughed that hard before in his entire life and that I never had to worry about giving him a Father’s Day gift, because that day would last forever.

Now that I have written this post, I can’t help but imagine him, my mom and their best friends with them in Paradise…cracking their sides laughing right now.

I am glad that I chose happy memories today, and I hope that all readers can celebrate this day with love and much laughter.

Thanks for reading!

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Aside

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.

 

Aside

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