Every child should be so fortunate to have a favorite memory with their parents – or the people that raised them. The two aren’t always one in the same.
With 1,385 divorces happening every 5 hours, or the time of a wedding reception, I’m appreciative my parents fought their way through the difficult times and stuck together. They made it a point to spend as much time as possible with their children, too.
I spent far more time with my Mom than Dad. Mainly, because he was often working onsite at his client locations while he provided for our family. This made the moments we did have together feel very special, because I understood his time was scarce while being split amongst six children and a loving wife.
Somehow, Dad found a way to spend ‘special time’ with each of his children; finding unique ways to make memories while sharing our common interests.
I spent a lot of time in the garage with dad, fixing cars, repairing garden tools, or being employed for my ‘special job’ of compacting the trash.
This job involved my dad holding me high above our trash can while I stomped the trash down to make room for more garbage bags.
Large families make a lot of garbage…
I look back on these times and hold them close to my heart, because they were the times where I got to know my Dad – I mean, really know my Dad.
Children used to work alongside their fathers. Because of this, they would see the temperance of their father. For example, a young boy could see the toil and temper of his father while he worked in the field, loaded a wagon or hammered a piece of hot metal.
Nowadays, a child simply sees their parents after a long day at work and doesn’t have a full understanding of why their patience might be short, because they weren’t with them during the moments that voided them of it.
I look back fondly at the moments I would work alongside my Dad in our garage – sweating under the hood of a car while he read through the vehicle repair guide to accomplish the task.
He taught me a lot of lessons in these moments. Unfortunately, we never had the opportunity to drink a beer together after a hard day’s work.
Of all the times we shared together, one day together when I was six years old stands out to me as my absolute favorite.
It was a weekday, and Dad proposed the two of us spend the day together. He told me that he had a surprise for me and to pack my bathing suit, along with a change of clothes.
Instead of driving our forest green 1977 Volvo Wagon, Dad fired up the 1979 Toyota Land Cruiser in our garage. He had spent the last few weeks making repairs to the Cruiser so that we could take it out for the day.
Eagerly, I hopped in the front seat of the vehicle and grinned with anticipation as he pulled it out of our driveway. He took the top off of the Cruiser before we left, so that we could ride in the open air.
To my great delight, Dad drove to a place in Columbus where people would go ‘mudding’ with their dirt bikes, off-road vehicles, and 4-wheelers.
For over an hour, we roared through the mud, climbed over hills, and fought our way through deep trenches of dirty water.
I remember looking over at Dad, who confidently steered the vehicle while shifting gears on the manual transmission. Even in the moments where I thought we were stuck, he found a way to pull us through and get us to the other side of the mud.
That was when I knew my Dad was Superman.
I never felt so safe, protected, or secure as I did in that moment; squealing with joy as he deftly maneuvered the Land Cruiser through obstacles and rocky terrain while the engine roared under his command.
As we drove away from the mud, Dad told me he had another surprise for me – going to Wyandot Lake amusement park; one of my favorite places. We spent the afternoon riding amusement park rides, tearing down water slides, and eating junk food.
At 240lbs. and 6’4”, my Dad easily carried the large inflatable tubes up many flights of stairs so we could ride them down the water slides. I looked up at him and thought that someday I would be as big and strong as he was.
At the end of the day, we drove home in the Land Cruiser and I eagerly told my siblings about all of our adventures with great delight.
That day stands above all others when I think about my Dad. Over 20 years later, I still look back on that day and remember the time Dad made me feel like the most important little man in the world.
Life is full of such memories. and when you don’t stop to lose yourself in them, you’ll find yourself wondering where they all went so quickly.
As an adult, I still hear the voice of my 6 year-old self reminding me how very fortunate I was to have had Superman as my Dad, while encouraging me about the day I have children: