My Dad was a car salesman so we never actually owned the cars, rather he drove what were called “demonstrators”, a perk from the dealer he worked for. Seats were always wrapped in plastic and the floors had those annoying paper mats to protect the carpet ones. But every car had that “new car smell” and were shiny and beautiful the classic way cars from the 50s and 60s were.
At the chance of sounding really old, gasoline in my youth, was only thirty-two cents a gallon, which was good since Dad loved to drive. He’d load my mom and us kids into the station wagons and go for rides on Sunday afternoons. We'd circle practically the entire county enjoying our “free entertainment” as he called it.
In the summertime, the windows would be rolled down and we’d sing along to the radio, country western music was his favorite. In the winter, we’d wait in the house until Dad warmed the car up and had scraped all the snow off before we piled into the two back seats to see where the road would take us.
Our rides often ended up at one of two places depending on the time of year-- Either to our town's small air strip to watch planes land and take off, or to rolling hills filled with apple orchids in “the country” for fresh cider and warm, homemade pies.
Fall was Dad's favorite time of the year. Autumns in Ohio might be short in days but they deliver a blaze of stunning colors and crisp air that had him raising his face to the sky as if to gulp in its energy.
Occasionally, my adolescent brain would wonder what the big deal was about seeing miles and miles of fall leaves along country roads, but I never said a peep. I knew when we were headed to the apple farm and I knew how much pleasure it gave my Dad to share his one day off work a week with us.
Sadly, for my dad, he didn’t see nearly enough autumns in Ohio. He died of cancer when he was only 59. It pretty much sucked and I mean no disrespect by that. But "suck" is the only four letter word I can use to describe cancer since this is a PG-13 blog. I'm still angry that he was taken so young after such a hard fight.
It's been more than 16 years since his death and I miss him as much now as I did when he slipped away. At times I actually forget he’s gone and still reach for the phone to call him.
I wonder what Dad would think of his five kids today-- Four daughters and a son all over age 40. He is so much a part of who each one of us is, yet we are all so totally different.
More times than I can count, I’ve wished Dad’s ten grandchildren could learn, first-hand, his down to earth common sense wisdom and his easy-going way with people. I think they would adore him.
It may seem odd, but for years I’ve felt closest to my Dad when I’m in the car. Maybe that’s why I always arrive an hour early to pick up Godson from school. I sit in the car-- alone with myself, and let my mind drift, often landing on memories of him.
Today would be Dad's 76th birthday-- Although I miss him terribly, my heart is full of love and reflections of the man who taught me how to drive, in a big, shiny, new car.
Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna Jenkins