Father’s Day was yesterday. I called my dad to wish him a happy one. I love that guy; if he’s not saying something totally sarcastic and/or hysterical, he’s quoting The Godfather or getting ticked at the Yankees. In college, I’d sometimes call him between classes or when I had a free afternoon, just to say hi. But the conversation always turned out to be more than just a hello. I always hung up with a verbal “Love you, bye” and an internal wonder at the life advice he had just bestowed upon me (unknowingly perhaps, because his tone and delivery are so natural, and he doesn’t come across as “advice-givish”).
Today I read an article that gave ten commandments to lackadaisical and uninvolved fathers. Number 7 was this: “Surprise! Just once, on a random day without meaning or purpose, show up early at your kid’s school/camp/wherever, say ‘Get in the car!’ and take him/her somewhere special. Just the two of you, alone. A movie. A park. A hike. The memory lasts — I promise.”
I can, wholeheartedly and with love, attest to that last statement. The memories do in fact last and often become more than just a thought stored in your brain’s recesses as they span the space between your heart and your mind and take hold of your perspective on life, pointing you to what’s good and happy and bright.
Here are some:
– The two hot summer nights my dad took my sister and I first to get bicycles and then rollerblades. He pretended like we had to come inside and go to bed, but the hat on his head and shoes on his feet and keys in his hand were a sure giveaway that we were going someplace else besides inside and to bed.
– I used to play softball in the mornings every summer. One particularly hot day, I was standing around in left field not doing much of anything, since no 10-12-year-old girls ever hit that far anyway. And there comes my dad in his car; he pulled up to the edge of the field, rolled down his window and asked if I wanted to go boating with him. So naturally, I sprinted from left field right into the front seat of his car where he whisked me away from the dry grass and dirt to sea spray and ocean breeze.
– One Christmas season, I went with my dad in his blue Ford pickup driving around our cleverly rural but suburban town looking for a place that sold Christmas trees. It began to snow, and we happened upon tree field empty of people; he pulled off the side of the road and parked in a ditch of sorts. As we got out of the car, he told me to leave my door open as he reached for the stereo and upped the decibels of the festive music coming from the radio. And there we were, Dad and me, traipsing through a Christmas tree field, snow falling around us, dancing with the sounds of the music coming from his truck.
– The countless times my dad took us children fishing. The thing is, when he took us, it was us fishing and him untangling lines, worming hooks, and on rarer occasions, removing a fish from the hook and throwing it back in, celebrating with us in our success. So I can’t imagine it was overly fun for him, but that didn’t stop him from taking us a lot.
– Once my dad and I went to Martha’s Vineyard for the day. No one else in my family could come that particular time, so off we went. That day was full of fun things like ice cream and new flip flops and new sunglasses and him letting me look in dress shops while he waited outside for me.
These two are less of him taking me places but times that I had to mention:
– Once I went dateless (and still had a great time FWIW) to a Jr./Sr. and my dad presented me with a wrist corsage. That just speaks for itself.
– The time I got into an accident of sorts involving an automobile…I arrived home to find my father sitting in the big blue easy chair in the den, his face behind a newspaper. I immediately went in and began to apologize profusely about damaging the car. And he stopped me and said this (it is emblazoned in me forever): “The car? I don’t care about the car! You could’ve been killed! You are driving a killing machine!” I was a little shocked at first, because in reality, it was just a fender bender. I didn’t even have whip lash. But to hear my dad say that meant a lot. And by a lot, I mean something I can’t put into words.
Love you, Dad! I am thankful to God for you!