I’m wishing a day-late happy Fathers Day to all the dads and father figures out there. The world is a better place because of you.
I visited my father last week and would like to devote this newsletter to a few memories of growing up with him as my dad. He was and is a great influence in my life.
My earliest and most sensory-rich memory is of me and my dad. It is when we lived in Riverside, California. Our house was on a hill at the end of a cul-de-sac with undeveloped land behind us. My dad had a motorcycle, and when my mind reaches back to riding it, I can almost feel the cool of the gas tank against my knees as Dad set me on the seat in front of him, and the cool of the metal handlebars against my palms as I gripped the center bar for all I was worth. The faint smell of gasoline, the rumble of the engine made the experience both exhilarating and frightening, but I felt safe with my dad's strong arms on either side of me. I recall terror and thrill as we rolled down our steep driveway and leaned into a turn, accelerating down the street. I was probably four years old. It was dusk when we went off-roading, the sun low in the sky, making beautiful shadows beneath pungent sage bushes. We rode slowly along dirt paths, going over bumps and ruts, making dust trails behind us. Can you feel the wonder of a four-year old with the sensory experience of man and machine? I love that memory! I have very few pictures of me and my dad from that era. This is one I have framed in my room. It is not on a motorcycle, but gives you the feel of father-daughter time together.
When I was ten years old I fell in love with horses and, like many young girls, I wanted a pony. By then, my family had migrated from Southern California to the Pacific Northwest, and I knew that the five-acres we owned was begging for a horse. Well, at least I was begging for one. Dad said I could have a pony if I earned the money. That was at a time when ten-year olds were considered old enough to work for pay, and my sister and I babysat as a team for a dollar an hour which we split. We also worked in the fields picking strawberries. I think we earned 8 cents a pound.
We worked hard and both earned enough money to purchase our own horses. Mine was a pure-bred Galiceno named Wild John. I bought him for $100. Debbie’s was a Shetland-quarter horse mix named Cinnamon. I remember the evening my dad took me to pick up Wild John and bring him home. It was magical. Wild John was a dream-come-true and I loved him with all of my young-girl heart. Well….. I loved him with all my heart until we went to our family reunion and my cousins brought their motorcycles. I got hooked. I eventually asked my dad if I could buy a motorcycle.
We had long talks about the difference between owning a horse and owning a motorcycle, and when I found an Indian 70 listed in the classified ads for $100, my dad said I could buy it if I sold my horse, since that was the only way I could afford it. I lay in bed at night with my twelve-year-old brain grinding on what I should do. I placed a classified ad for my beloved pony and found a family that would love him, not as much as I felt I did, but enough for me to let him go. Then, with cash in hand, my dad took me over to pick up my motorcycle.
We had a lot of fun with the bike. Our family moved to a bigger farm that had a large horse race track that circled ten acres and we would speed that motorcycle round and around it. I learned that when machines break, they are expensive, and I spent a lot of babysitting and berry money on repairs. I honestly can’t remember what happened to the motorcycle, but I appreciate a father that respected my dreams, made me work hard to earn the money, and then facilitated making those dream become reality.
I have other stories of my dad that include a kids play fort, a Hobart mixer, a concession trailer, and a Ford Falcon Futura purchase, to name a few. All of them dreams that became realities with the help of my dad.
I mentioned that I visited my father last week. He has been struggling with complications to a recent eye surgery and when I was there I was grateful that he could see well enough for us to go on an adventure in Grizelda, his side-by-side all-terrain-vehicle.
We had spectacular views of Bryce Canyon and a great lunch packed by my mom. The next day, his vision was not good enough for him to drive and he relinquished the keys to Jim. I felt compassion and admiration to my dad, who always chauffeured family adventures, and now was riding shotgun.
It was Sunday, and our friends Mark and Patty Kubeja joined us on the ride up Hog canyon. Mom and Patty brought their ukuleles and we held church overlooking the red rock with the town of Kanab in the distance. My mom made songbooks called ‘Hymns for going out with Grizelda.’ (If you would like a copy I can email a pdf file) It has just enough three-chord hymns for the perfect outdoor Sunday service with the sermon preached through song. It is the kind of church I prefer.
July will find my dad undergoing another surgery that will hopefully, over time, restore his vision. If you practice meditation, positive thinking or prayer, could you remember my dad? I would be very grateful.
Teacup Time ~
This is from the camping gear, not the china hutch. Its from the era of backpacking with my dad. I drank a lot of tea and cocoa from this cup on hiking and camping adventures with my dad. Lots of love in this teacup!