Can I tell you a not so secret secret? I’m horrible at gift giving, birthday celebrating and romance. Poor Ray. He goes out of his way and try as I might for Father’s Day, it’s pretty much blah… He did get a nap yesterday though. Does that count? He also got an errand… he had to return the router I got him because it wasn’t the one he wanted. Ooops. Father’s Day is one of those very tough days for me. I do try to celebrate Ray, I try and make sure the kids call their grandfathers but my Dad is always in the back of my mind. I wish I had just one more year to try and get Father’s Day right for him. In honor of my Dad, I thought I would jot down a few things I learned from him.
Dad taught me how to drive, mostly like a bat out of hell and even more aggressively when I’m irritated. As a teenager someone really should have put me in the demolition derby. We could have earned some money! I grew up on country roads jumping hills. (Sorry mom.) I would like to think I’m a pretty good defensive driver and I used to be decent at maneuvering. (Old age is creeping in.) I moved from two lane roads to hello Virginia traffic. I would have frozen and never gone anywhere if it weren’t for Dad teaching me to drive like a maniac just like the rest of the city folk.
I learned perseverance from my Dad. No matter what his job situation was, or health situation was, he never gave up. No matter how miserable he was, he trudged on through. I never knew how remarkable that was until I hit adulthood and particularly, parenthood. One of the stories about Dad that I remember most happened when Ray and I first got married, we moved to Virginia Beach. Ray had to head to Rhode Island for 6 weeks. It snowed buckets every weekend. I started a new job and had to learn to drive in 6 lane traffic. I knew one person in that town. One night, I was closing the office, I went outside to realize I had left the lights on in my car. Ooops. It was Friday night. The marketing director who was not always a particularly nice person was closing up shop with me. I asked if she could swing me by my house, one exit away. She was let’s call it irritated at the thought of having to help the poor defenseless child. I called the one other person I knew. This was pre cell phone. I couldn’t get him on the phone. Thankfully the marketing director found her last little bit of compassion before I called a cab. I had no cash in my wallet. She made a point to tell me how she was late for a party and I was really putting her out the entire way home. Ray was in a spot where I couldn’t just call him up. This was cherry on top of a particularly hard three weeks, I knew I was barely half way done. I called Dad. I told him I didn’t think I could be in the big city so far from home by myself. If I had called anyone else, they probably would have been in a car on the way to Virginia. Dad said, “I love you. You’re a married woman. Time to act like it.” Best advice anyone ever gave me. I dusted myself off finally got my buddy to help me jump the car and made it through that 6 weeks.
Dad taught me how to laugh and how to laugh at myself. Dad loved a good joke and was (almost always) a good sport. I remember him helping put on a Hee Haw skit at the school when I was little. I was shocked and so proud to see my dad on stage. He laughed about his middle name, laughed when his buddies called him Chico and generally had a good time. There was one time that took him a bit to laugh at though. The year he turned 40, I went up to a local florist and anonymously sent some black roses and a black balloon. He was so mad that no one he worked with would fess up to sending them. He was a bit shocked when after dinner I admitted it was me. He was pretty irritated. I guess he’s acted like an ass for a bit at work. Eventually we laughed about it together.
Other things Dad taught me, compassion, loyalty above all else and honor. He taught me that once I committed to something, I had to follow through. He was there for us when most other Dad’s weren’t. He coached Tye’s baseball team, played basketball with us until we couldn’t see the hoop anymore, had us washing cars and cutting the lawn together. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows. If Wayne Jackson was mad, there was no one on the planet who could make you feel worse by not saying a word. When we needed him, he was there. Dad taught me to not be afraid to jump off the high dive. He taught me to try new things even if I thought they were hard.
Dad was great. I wish I had a couple of more decades to tell him how great he was. If your Dad is still around, make sure you tell him how great he is and don’t just do it on Father’s Day…do it every day. I wish I could.