Happy Father’s Day out there, to parents and children alike. I am remembering, today, what infinite patience it took my Dad to raise me, sandwiched in between my brother and sister, and how he mostly kept his sense of humor through it all.
Someone asked me to recall my first car, a few weeks back, and, well, I burst into tears. I learned to drive in my parents’ 1966 Volkswagon beetle, which was the first thing they purchased when they got married. I recall that driving lessons with Dad did not go especially well, in general; someone in the car might have been a micro-manager, and someone else in the car might have been, at fifteen, stubborn and overly sensitive. So we took a few practice trips in whatever automatic-drive family car we had back then. There were tears. But then Dad, with a high degree of fatherly wisdom, decided to change tactics. We went home and swapped cars, for the stick shift, sixties-era royal blue bug. He drove us to the parking lot of the WFU football stadium, which was vast and empty.
He gave me some basic instructions: you go from first gear, up. When you want to switch, put your foot on the clutch and take your foot off the gas. Don’t hit anything. May the force be with you.
And then he got out of the car. And he let me figure it out, driving around in circles in the parking lot for about twenty minutes, and suddenly the whole driving thing was easy. And then he got back in the car, and I drove us home. Dad was like that; he knew when to give instructions, and when to stand back and watch; when to be the tough guy, and when to try an alternate route, and when to be a big softie.
Dad’s been gone for ten years now, give or take a couple of weeks. The day we lost him after a long illness is one I try not to think about, because he wouldn’t want that. So instead, I celebrate him on Father’s Day and birthdays, although I miss him all the time.
Dad’s favorite chocolate cake will be in the oven over here, in about ten minutes. Y’all come over and have some, and tell me about YOUR awesome Dads.