Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Father's Day Story

My daddy, c. 1962
I forgot that it was Father's Day today.  The kids and I had picked out cards earlier in the week, but then the week happened and this morning it did not cross my mind.  I had hidden the cards so my husband wouldn't inadvertently find them (as if someone could inadvertently find anything in my studio!) and then I moved them to a safer location that it took me ten minutes to remember this afternoon.

I used to remember Father's Day, but now I don't so much, what with being out of grandfathers and fathers.  This is my fifth Father's Day since Daddy died, and I think that not bursting into tears at the sight of other people with their fathers on this day is progress.

But this post isn't about moping, because my father was a very funny and practical man who would not appreciate it.  Instead, I shall tell this story.

I got a bike for Christmas when I was six years old.  It was green and it had training wheels.  It was perfect.    All the other kids in the apartment complex had bikes and I imagined huge amounts of fun marauding through the property.

One by one, the other kids learned to ride without training wheels, but not me.  We had taken off one training wheel, but that was my limit.  Until my father decided that enough was enough and it was time to ride a two-wheeler.

He was determined.  It was summer, possibly late spring, but the weather was warm.  I remember him taking me to a park to practice and he would run with his hand on the bike for a bit and then give me a little push and then I would glide for maybe a yard or two before falling over.  I remember how the sweat rolled down his face and the towel or handkerchief he brought that was thoroughly soaked by the time we called it quits that day.

We did this many more times.  He had thought that by the end of that first day, I would be a confident rider.  And then he thought that maybe by the end of the second day, or the third.  I don't know how many days he took me out, or how many towels he sweated through, or how many times he asked himself what exactly my problem was and WHY CAN'T SHE RIDE THIS DURN BIKE?!?!

Then one day I went out with my friends and I took my bike with me.  I guess I was feeling hopeful.  I walked my bike up to the top of the hill with everyone else, climbed on, and coasted down that hill on two wheels without falling.  I was elated and my friends were impressed.  We rode around the rest of the afternoon, and I could not wait to tell my father that I could ride my bike.

I don't remember that conversation.  To hear my father tell it, his reaction was outwardly pleased, but inside he was gnashing his teeth and counting up the hours and sweaty handkerchiefs he could have saved if he had just left it up to the neighborhood kids.

He was just doing what fathers do, though, the good ones anyway.  It became one of those stories you tell at Thanksgiving and Christmas, right before The Road Trip From Hell, and right after That Time Your Brother Did That Thing at the Table That Made Everyone Laugh So Hard They Spit Out Their Food.

Thank you, Daddy.

read to be read at yeahwrite.me

36 comments:

  1. What a bittersweet day for you - it sounds like you have wonderful memories of your father.

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    1. More than the law allows, probably. Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. I remember trying to teach my two youngest kids to ride without the training wheels. A week went by with little progress. They never seemed steady enough for me to release them on their own. One afternoon, Kellie and I came home to see the kids riding their bikes with the babysitter. Impressed, I asked the sitter how she did it. "I just pushed once and let them go." I guess some dads just have trouble letting go.

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    1. That's a sweet story, Joe. I'm pretty sure it doesn't get any easier.

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  3. So sweet. What a great post. A wonderful tribute to your Daddy. :)

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  4. aww how sweet. What a beautiful memory with your father. I'm glad that he spent so much time trying to teach you how to ride because now it's something you'll never forget.

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    1. It's wonderful to have those memories and stories that can now share with my own kids.

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  5. What a fabulous tribute to your dad. He sure was a handsome fellow, wasn't he?

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    1. My mother fell for him at first sight, or so I'm told.

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  6. Thanks for sharing this memory. Your dad's persistence and determination was obviously building up your confidence. It's a shame he couldn't see you whip down that hill for the first time on only two wheels, but I'm sure he was proud of you.

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    1. Thank you for that. I know he was pleased, and then was ready to move on to the next challenge, because that's how he was.

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  7. A fantastic remembrance. Thank you so much for sharing it!

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  8. Oh, this is just beautiful. Brought tears to my eyes. Isn't this the story of so many fathers - good ones, like you said - they put in the blood, sweat, and tears for their children, wife, family and just don't get to enjoy the fruits of their labor. So wonderful that he had such a great daughter to appreciate him so much.

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    1. Thank you. If he could see how my mother, brothers, and I have tried to honor his memory by not quitting (and I believe that he does know), I think he would be very pleased.

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  9. I love that he kept trying. What a great lesson for his daughter!

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    1. That's definitely the way he lived his life -- keep trying!

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  10. loved the way you shared this wonderful memory of your father. I'm sorry for your loss.

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  11. Love it. Learning to ride a bike is so HUGE --think how common the phrase "it's just like riding a bike" is in our conversation--but it's so hard to teach. Wonderful, evocative post.

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    1. Thank you. Fortunately, he had much better success when he taught me to drive.

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  12. this is timely as we are teaching our oldest to ride his bike right now. who knew it was such a hard thing to teach??

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    1. It seems so easy, but it's so hard to describe to someone else.

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  13. Great story, which was also a good metaphor. Sometimes we need to let our kids figure things out on their own. They often will anyway.

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    1. So true. We spend so much time trying to prepare them, when there really are things they have to learn on their own.

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  14. What a wonderful, sweet story. I could so see your dad running along pushing your bike. It's funny, of all the moments that happen to us in a life time, those things that really stick in our minds and hearts.

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    1. I have noticed with my own kids that it is the unplanned moments that stick, not the carefully orchestrated ones.

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  15. Your Daddy sounds like a great man.

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  16. Wonderful, loving story. Fabulous photo of your dad :)

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    1. Since I appointed myself family historian, I get the good pics! Thanks for stopping by.

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  17. Fellow newbie here. Such a sweet memory!

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    1. You write like a pro! Didn't realize you were a first-timer, too.

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  18. I know how you feel. I thought I was doing okay for Father's Day too until my stepmom gave me a card that she came across that I had given my dad a few years before he died. Ugh! Floodgates!

    But these days I smile much more when I remember my Dad than I cry. So I guess that's progress.

    Lots of great memories!

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    1. It is progress. Isn't it interesting how some things can just overcome you, and the rest of the time you're fine?

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