Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Joy Ride

Growing up, our family car was usually one of those huge station wagons with the third seat facing backwards. They were big and roomy and none of us kids ever felt squished sitting together, even with our bulky winter coats on.


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


Photo Credit- Car: © OlgaLIS - Fotolia.com

Photo Credit - Foliage: © Katie Chamberlain - Fotolia.com

85 comments:

  1. What a beautiful tribute to a heartfelt love!
    "I sit in the car-- alone with myself" you wrote...
    Alone with your Dad in the Real World of loving thoughts!

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  2. What a lovely tribute to your father, Joanna! I almost lost mine last year, so I'm sitting here misty eyed.

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  3. I lost my Dad in 2002 and there isn't a day that goes by when I don't think of him. He loved horse racing and so whenever I see roadside signs for a rare local race meet I find myself thinking: Oh, I'll call Dad and see if he wants to go.
    It doesn't surprise me then that you think of your Dad often and even reach for the phone to call him. I think it will probably always be that way.
    What a lovely piece you've written to remember him on his birthday. I'm sure he must be very proud of you and all his family.

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  4. He sounds to have been a pretty special guy, and one who left you with a whole host of wonderful memories, Joanna. What a beautiful legacy he has left behind, to be still so loved and alive in the hearts of those he loved.

    A wonderfully written post hon, from what you describe of him, I am sure your dad would be proud.

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  5. This a such a beautiful post to your dad. Having just lost my Dad it bought a tear to my eyes. It is so nice that you have a special place that he is in your thoughts. I do love Autumn too.

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  6. I'm so sorry that you had your dad for such a short time but his precious memories live on in you.

    What a beautiful tribute to him. I could almost feel the wind hitting your faces as you drove in the station wagon with your dad on the one day of the week he was off of work.

    The beauty in all of this is that you see your dad in all 5 of you.....uniquely and the grandkids are all seeing that as well.

    He's having a serious party up there, I tell ya!

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  7. Such precious memories! I'm sure he would have been proud of you.

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  8. Such a beautiful tribute to your dad! You are a great writer Joanna and can put your feelings into words. I felt your love for him, while reading this and felt the pain of missing him.
    When we lived in Canada my hubby and I used to drive around the country sides on Sunday´s, so reading this brought many memories for me too. We loved to go to a field behind the airport and watch the planes land and take off too. That was a long time ago! :)

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  9. This post painted very strong and beautiful memories. You will always have him there.

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  10. You and I share a history that we lived thousands of miles apart. It's so wonderful to read your words and see a split screen you and your family and me and with mine...in the car driving, ESPECIALLY on Sunday afternoons...in the 9 passenger Dodge Polara station wagon.

    It was a sign of the times; each generation has them. The fondest memories always, always, always being the ones when the family is together sharing in the sweet and simple things.

    I'm so sorry you lost your dad, especially so early on...but you asked what he may have thought of you and your siblings...... My faith teaches me that it's not a past tense occurrence with multiple possibilities.

    Your dad is and has been with you every single day just as surely as if he was tangible. And his feelings and thoughts are always coming from a place of love. All those other human negative feelings and limitations no longer exist for him.

    He is so proud of you! You can take that to the bank, JJ!!

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  11. With gas at over $2.69 a gallon, many people don't just "drive" like they used to.

    Your fond memories and tribute were heartfelt.

    XOX

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  12. aw . . this post was awesome.

    hugs to you xoxoxo

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  13. Lovely tribute to your dad what wonderful memories. I am so sorry for your loss and yes he was very young.
    Time doesn't make it better it just makes it longer without them! I know honey I am sorry.

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  14. He sounds like a wonderful dad! Your post brought back a lot of memories of riding to nowhere in particular with my family as a kid. Aren't those kinds of memories the best?

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  15. What a lovely tribute! My dad never actually took us on joy rides - but he was fond of 'taking the long way' to get somewhere...

    (((hugs)))

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  16. You brought a lump to my throat. I enjoyed your remembering the good times with your Dad. My Dad and I were never close, but when he died on N. Y. day 4 years ago, it hurt like hell. And while Dan and I are traveling, I think about "Dad would have loved this!" because he loved to travel. We bring his walking stick with us on our trips. It may not make it out of the closet, but it is with us.

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  17. This post touched a note with me, Joanna in a couple of ways. First, because I love those old cars from the 50s and 60s. But, even more, this week would be my mother's birthday. She died at 51, when I was 18 and I have been thinking about her a lot this week. What a beautiful tribute to you dad and your memories of him.

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  18. A wonderful post today my friend. He is so proud as he watches from above. We use to go on weekend rides and loved it when my dad would go over the roads when our tummies would flutter like butterflies. I wonder if families take rides anymore. Many hugs my friend. xo

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  19. really a beautiful post jj. memories of dad...though i still have mine this brought back precious moments....think i will call him today and tell him how much he means to me...

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  20. Your dad taught you how to drive! That in itself is a good memory. It sounds like he was a solid influence in your life, enough that you knew what he enjoyed and your family took pleasure in being together and taking those Sunday rides. Hugs to you today dear Joanna as you pay tribute to your father and wish him happy birthday.

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  21. what a great post... as far as common sense, i think 'he' left that job up to his kids to teach to theirs!. payback is sweet...lol...i am sure he is feeling mighty proud of u and your siblings...

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  22. What a great tribute to your Dad. As I was reading this I though how much your Dad reminded me of my Dad. He used to take us for rides too, driving down those country roads and I could never figure out how he always knew how to get home! My dad's birthday is tomorrow and he'll be 79.
    We're blessed to still have him and I'm so sorry that your Dad was taken much too early.

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  23. There is a little part of each of you and your siblings that is your father. That you are sharin' with the younger generation. They know your sweet daddy through you.

    This was a precious tribute to you daddy and I'm sure he is sending you big angel hugs an kisses today.

    Have a great day remembering your daddy and may it be filled with blessings from above!!!

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  24. Sunday drives were a tradition in my youthm, too. We went on picnics. I was the youngest of seven, and the tradition continued after some of my older siblings were married and had kids. They'd pack their kids and a lunch in their cars, too, and we'd all meet at a state park or some large picnic area and enjoy ham salad sandwiches, deviled eggs, cucumbers and tomatoes, potato chips, and molasses cookies and spend the afternoon together. I miss those times.

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  25. oh Joanna....what a cool 'pop' you had. his story brought a tear to my eyes, he was obviously very loved. i don't see my Dad much because he's in Oz but he's started calling me his little girl again, must be missing me...i miss him.

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  26. What a lovely tribute to your dad. We had similar fathers, worked 6 days a week, loved driving us around on his day off. Mine has been gone just about 9 years and I miss him so much.

    Cherished memories!!

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  27. Joanna,

    I am quite sure he is so proud of his children, especially a daughter that could capture his spirit so beautifully in words. What a blessed memory.

    My husband just lost his dad to the big C and I agree it sucks!

    Happy Birthday to your Dad and blessings to such a magnificent woman.

    All my best,
    Traci

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  28. Ohhhh,.. this touches me so deeply,.. as I had not a father growing up, but the greatest man in the earth, who is still my grandfather, He will be 94 this July,.. as your stories brought tears to my eyes, it reminds me of my papa so,.. Oh, Lovely,.. just sweet ,.. In loving memory of your father <3

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  29. What rich memories you've been left with. I'm so sorry you had to lose him so young.

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  30. Your dad sounded like a free spirit. I am thinking about you today!

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  31. A million thanks to all of you for your love and support, specially today. I can feel your hugs and kind words.
    Thanks you.
    xo jj

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  32. Hugs to you Joanna. This was a beautiful tribute to your Dad. I, too, think of my Dad, most every day. It's been almost 7 years since he passed away.

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  33. What a wonderful tribute to your Dad. I'm sure he's still with you, a guardian angel and very proud of you and all your siblings. The one great thing we all do is to keep those we love so dearly alive in our hearts and minds by never forgetting. They live on as a part of who we are.

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  34. Ah yes, the old station wagon. My dad was a mechanic so the cars I remember were always something that he had fixed up for the family. Didn't really matter if the fenders matched or the doors were the same color.
    I am very fortunate.
    My Dad is 75 years old and I still see him almost every day. I'll give him an extra big hug and a kiss when he comes in this afternoon. Thanks for this reminder.

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  35. Joanna, this is so unbelievably beautiful and touching. I'm so gald you had such a wonderful father.

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  36. Gorgeous, Joanna. Like a tree, your dad was your support, your shade, and a source of great beauty.

    I'm sure he would be so proud of you and your words.

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  37. What a lovely, moving post. I think your dad probably is right there with you when you spend your alone time in the car. I'm sorry that you had such a short time with him. I hope his birthday brings back happy memories for you.

    Your Sunday drives remind me of the family vacations we took when I was a kid. Everything had to be packed and loaded into the car (a station wagon, of course) the night before we left. We were always on the road before dawn and we rarely stopped at restaurants to eat. The big, dented metal cooler was full of sandwiches and drinks that we would eat at picnic tables at rest areas along the way. Those were the days, eh?

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  38. lovely post today Joanna, enjoyed it.

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  39. I loved Sunday rides! I still do, only I can't get my husband to enjoy them (& he typically falls asleep if we do go).
    I remember well the backwards seat in the station wagon, one of ours had two seats that faced each other, perpendicular to the regular back seat. Odd.

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  40. I could feel the love for your father through your words. Beautiful. I felt as though you took us along in this car rides, seeing the bright Fall colors and your father's smile.

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  41. ((Hugs)) Happy Birthday to your Dad I'm sure he is looking down on his family and smiling.

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  42. Happy Birthday to your dad; he sounds like a great guy, and you have some wonderful memories.

    Your story reminded me of my mom (still living) who would always take us for rides as entertainment. It's something we still do now, with my kiddos.

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  43. Reading this, it was almost like you were describing my own father, who passed away 17 or 18 years ago (I'm bad with dates) at the age of 78. He was old enough to be my grandfather, my mother was his second marriage.
    The airport thing, I know it well and have passed that one down to my own kids. Driving down the autumn leaf roads, it's like being inside the colors, one of my all time favorite things to do in a car.
    Thank you for sharing such a nice memory of your dad honey. Hugs. xo

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  44. What a wonderful tribute post, Joanna. I remember so many of those same things. The long drives, going to the airport to watch the planes take-off and land, the long waits for the cars to warm up.

    Until now, it hadn't occured to me that, with the price of gas, people don't take long drives so much these days.

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  45. Wonderful memories of your dad, Joanna. You're lucky to have those. Enjoy honoring him on this special day!

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  46. Darlin is does suck that you lost your dear Dad so early. And those memories, oh how I can identify with them. The Sunday drives with the windows down (no aircon in those days)...picnics...watching planes take off... I'm so pleased you have these nice memories, and the ability to write them down. It's not enough I know...not nearly enough. My love to you dear girl.

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  47. Happy Dad's birthday to you and your memories. I came so close to losing my dad about 7 years ago, that I often wonder how the world will seem without him, or my mom. Hard to comprehend the absence. It's nice you've found a way to feel close to him again.

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  48. wonderful memories thanks for sharing. Your sharing makes us (if I can speak for the others?) remember our memories and thats a great thing.
    Memories of my dad come back to me if I smell moist pea gravel or fresh sawdust. He was a contractor and built some beautiful homes.
    What a great way to enjoy a car ride - thanks.

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  49. This is a very beautiful tribute. Got me all misty eyed for a couple of reasons. It made me homesick for when we used to drive up to Wisconson in the fall to go buy apples. The fall colors were all so beautfiul. And I got to thinking about all the kids with their DVD players in the car and what they miss out on. It's hard to imagine a post 30 or so years from now that talks about fond memories of watching some Disney flick as your family drives down the road. Sad really.

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  50. This was so beautifully written and such a touching tribute to your sweet dad. I'm sorry for your loss. I'm glad you are blessed with such warm, happy memories.
    Enjoy the ride. I know he would want you to.
    ♥ Joy

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  51. Oh my gosh! I can clearly remember being a teenybopper and gasoline being 29 cents for regular and 32 for premium at the Pure station two blocks away! And of course, they had an attendant!

    My father had a gorgeous 1958 powder blue and white Oldsmobile. It later became my brother's (he was nine years older than me) and he painted it black because, well, boys are stupid lol.

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  52. What a wonderful tribute to your father. I can remember drives with my Dad too - he would take a friend and me for drives around our native Montreal. Your story triggered some fine memories. This was very touching and I'm so sorry for your loss.

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  53. Joanna it is absolutely beautiful the way you tell this story.

    I understand your loss in more ways than one.

    take care and enjoy your car time.

    xx Ribbon

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  54. Lovely ... and, such a wonderful tribute to your father. For the record, I totally agree with your take on cancer ... I've said the same thing many times in the past year as my mom has dealt with metastatic cancer.

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  55. Lovely ... and, such a wonderful tribute to your father. For the record, I totally agree with your take on cancer ... I've said the same thing many times in the past year as my mom has dealt with metastatic cancer.

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  56. Beautiful recollection of childhood memories tied to a car. And of your father.
    My dad is significant to me as well and so are all his cars. I also recall drives I took with him as a child and as an adult.;)
    Very touching and poignant post, well worth the POTW win.
    xo
    Zuzana

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  57. Mum died from cancer when she was 59, Joanna. Horrible disease, taking people too young. Your father has left you with beautiful memories - sounds like he was a fun dad to have around.

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  58. I feel many similarities to your story. Sunday afternoon rides, Dad gone too soon, and still missing him. Bless you and your dear memories, What a nice story you wrote and how proud your father would be of you now.

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  59. That was an amazing tribute. ANd, my friend, I throw my arms around you for a great big hug.



    ((((((((((((hugs)))))))))))))

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  60. That was a beautifully written post. Congrats on a well-deserved Post of the Week!

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  61. Happy Birthday to your dad. He sounds like a wonderful father and a great man. I understand your feelings exactly for I feel the same way. When something exciting happens, I always think....I have to call mom! We had one of those big station wagons too and we loved it. We would ride home from the beach with our sandy feet hanging off the back as we sat on the open tailgate! Imagine that...and no one ever fell off!

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  62. What a lovely post and a tribute to your Dad. It would have been my Dad's birthday tomorrow.

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  63. A wonderful tribute. Congratulations on the potw. Very well deserved.

    A high school English teacher of mine once asked us about our heroes. We made our various answers, I think I may have said John Lennon, I forget. We all pretty much named public figures of one sort or another. He seemed disappointed after we all were through.

    We asked him what his answer would have been. He said his father. I didn't understand that then. Well, I was only 15.

    I understand now.

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  64. What a gently beautiful sort of post. I'm so sorry you lost your dad too soon, but it is wonderful that you remember him with such respect and love. May we all be remembered by someone in a similar fashion, when it comes our time to be remembered.

    I remember going for drives as a form of entertainment, I used to like to do it also. Now it's not just too expensive, people are more careful about the environment. Overall that's a good thing, I know, but I do miss the times when simply going out to see the world around us, confident that it would always be there, primarily unchanged, was something that people did regularly.

    Truly, what a nice post. Not only are you remembering your dad, judging from the comments, you've given many people the opportunity to remember also. Congrats on the post of the week mention over at Hilary's.

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  65. What a beautiful tribute to your dad. I'm sure wherever he is now, he's beaming with pride at how much you love him. His legacy lives on in you. Thanks for sharing such a heartfelt tribute. :-)

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  66. You made me cry and smile, what a lovely tribute ..
    AND
    Congrats on the POTW from Hilary

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  67. Very nice post. Those Sunday drives were a ritual in our family too and with six kids, a 9-passenger station wagon was a fixture in our driveway for years.

    Funnily enough, many of our drives were to the local airport too, where we'd watch little Cessnas and Pipers take off and land. After an hour or so of that, we'd get an ice cream cone from the local dairy.

    We were lucky enough to hang onto Dad until he was 84.

    Thanks for the memories. :)

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  68. What a lovely post, Joanna. A great tribute to your father.

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  69. That was so moving, Joanna. My father also died too young - he was 58 when he passed away after a heart attack. It was 13 years ago on March 11.

    Best wishes to you.

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  70. This post had everything for me. It brought back memories with the car and road trip. It made me think about how cheap gas was and how such simple things could be entertaining. But most of all, it made me realize how precious our love ones are and how we should never take them for granted. I am sure that your Dad would be proud of you. (((HUGS)))

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  71. What a sweet and beautiful tribute. What a wonderful father.


    ps. how i loved that backwards facing seat in our station wagon. :)

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  72. ah, such wonderful memories.
    Congratulations on your POTW at Hilary's!

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  73. I hear ya! Great shot of the red car & the side view mirror.

    Grew up with Ford Country Sedan or Country Squire station wagons. My mother wouldn't have anything else. Ah, memories.

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  74. P.S. I meant to add that I am sorry your father died so young.

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  75. What a lovely tribute to your Dad.

    So sweet.....

    Thanks for sharing your memories with us, Joanna.

    xo

    ~Pissy

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  76. So sorry for your loss! I also lost my father to cancer back in December of 2006. As you can imagine, the holidays are difficult.
    It was a beautiful tribute to your dad.

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  77. Oh that was an amazing post.

    You are so right and your father was far too young. I am sure he knows exactly what all his children and grandchildren are doing and looking upon you all very proudly.

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  78. Beautiful Post! Bravo! You and I (and many others by the replies) are of a shared mind. Astonishing, really.

    My father, a salesman, also loved the "drive" and always had a giant Olds or some used massive Caddy.

    He lost his battle with cancer at 62. It's been 23 years now and I often also forget he is gone. That doesn't go away, which is a good thing, I think.

    Four daughters and two sons here, the youngest being 37 now. So much a part of us and we are also all so totally different, yet so very close because of him.

    Dad missed the lives of 9 of his 20 grandchildren and I know they would have loved him very much.

    What you said about being closest to your dad in the car is me too, absolutely. It's crazy, but my will drive, by myself, for hours and it's like a meditation for me, like I'm there, with my dad (who was often a traveling salesman in my childhood) and we're eating the road together.

    My dad would have been 88 this year. Wow. Thank you for this wonderful connection.

    Cheers,

    SLC

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  79. Joanna, this is a wonderful tribute to your dad. I'm sorry for your loss of him so early in life, but he obviously left you with very precious memories to remember him by. I can remember the weekend drives to nowhere with my parents in our big 1959 Cadillac, the model with the big tail fins.

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  80. What a wonderful post. I'm sorry you lost your dad so young.

    After my dad died, my mom said, "I do miss your dad, but there's a little bit of him in each one of you kids, so that makes me feel like he is still here." How sweet is that?!

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  81. oh Joanna,
    I felt my heart pierced through with much of this.

    for your words of honour
    for the loss
    for how we hope as parents to leave these permanent love marks deep in the souls of our children
    for how I remember too few of these rides

    hugs to you

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  82. I'm pretty new around here, but this post made me realize we've got a lot in common. I lost my own dad when he was very young (46). There were five of us kids, and there are 10 grandkids. And you know what? Some of my very favorite memories of childhood are our trips in the station wagon, facing backward sitting in the backseat, waving at all of the people we passed by...

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