Thursday, October 15, 2009

A celebration of parents! Vol. II

A bunch of the guys in the office were just trading funny anecdotes about their fathers and how they accidentally punched their dad in the face, ran them over with bikes, etc. I don't think I've ever done any real physical harm to my father but it did remind me of a story.

A while back, I posted this blog about my mother. I figure my dad is past due for his tribute blog.

When I was about 14 or 15 we owned a Chevy Impala and we always parked it on the right side of the garage. I don't remember why I needed to move the car, I guess I was probably going to wash it. Now, I'd backed up the car for this kind of thing dozens of times, so I had no reason to suspect that on this day a little extra care would've gone a long way.

Anyway, as I backed the car up, I turned my head to look behind me and heard the sound of metal scraping and bending. The front end of the Impala is a bit longer than most cars and I had slowly but steadily run into the garage wall. There was a huge dent on the side of the car and a ton of scratches. I remember that enormous "Oh, shit" feeling that every careless child is doomed to feel a thousand times on his way to maturity. Oh, the dread. What would my father say?

Dad wasn't home at the time, but Mom was, so of course she found out pretty quick. I don't really remember what her initial reaction was. Probably because I was so nervous about Dad's reaction and overwhelmed with the shame of the thing. "How could I have been so stupid?" and whatnot.

Well, Dad did inevitably come home and see the car. In my infinite maturity, I avoided him. I didn't say anything about the car or anything else that night if I could avoid it. Mom noticed and reprimanded me in private, "You still haven't said anything to your dad about that car!" And I never did. The next day at breakfast though, there was no avoiding him. We both knew it. We both felt the awkwardness that that kind of boyhood shame creates. What he said to me was this: "Well, son, I think you may need some more driving lessons."

I said, "Yeah...sorry about that."
He chuckled.

And that was it. I know he was put out, or frustrated, maybe even angry. How could he not be? But where his sons are concerned, I doubt you could find another man in this entire world who is as selfless. I think he knew how ashamed I was, and it was more important to him to ease my anxiety, than it was to let out his own frustrations. My dad has faults like everyone else, but selfishness isn't one of them. The man has character.

I hope I remember this story the first time Harper messes up.

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