I have an insane sense of direction. It’s indeed a gift. Especially in the days of traveling with male drivers pre GPS devices. Sorry guys.
Ever since I was a child, I could remember how to get from point A to point B from the backseat nonetheless.
I contribute this to my keen sense of my surroundings or my mnemonic image skills. That’s right ladies and gentleman, yours truly is a human navigational system via the pictures in my head.
When I was no more than 6, I remember sitting in the backseat of my father’s Caprice Classic looking out the window while taking notes on where we were going. Mailbox, blue words, brown building.
This came in handy when we were heading to the same place, and my father seemed to forget the left turn at the mailbox. I’ll never forget how impressed he appeared with my knowledge of direction.
Fast forward to me slaying my driving test. My sister went to Center City to get her hair cut at a high-end salon, but that’s another story. Anywho she called my father crying because she couldn’t seem to find her way to the train station to get home.
So, what does a father do when he doesn’t want to miss an episode of General Hospital to pick-up his lost daughter in the city? He summons his other daughter with her keen mnemonic image skills and fresh drivers license to fetch the one he claimed: “could not find her way out of a paper bag.” The 80’s were a different world people.
Mind you my license was fresh off the presses, I had never driven to the city alone, and yet my father seemed more than confident that I would be able to pull off this mission. Good thing I was fearless at 17.
Of course, my big question was “where is she?”
Without missing a beat, my dad said “17th & Locust.” Ok, that didn’t help.
Since he was aware of my skills, he followed that up with “you know what city hall looks like right?” Um, yea.
“Well, that’s 15th Street. Just follow the numbers until you see a park on your left. Turn left at the end of the park, and you’ll see your sister crying on the corner.” Um, ok.
Considering I’m writing this story, and my sister is a married mother of two, you know that the mission was indeed accomplished without incident. Including that riveting episode of General Hospital.
Enjoy the Ride! Directions are optional.
Father’s Day has been different for me over the years. My father died on Father’s Day in 1994. It’s ok, don’t be all sad, he planned the big exit so we would never forget. 23 years ago on the 19th of June.
Honestly, I always thought it would be Christmas, the big guns of the holidays, but having your father die on Father’s Day…well-played Jim, well-played indeed.
This was a man with a very large presence, who wanted to be remembered in a very grand way so I would say…mission accomplished dad.
My dad was almost 58 when I born..oops, which made my childhood a tad interesting, to say the least. It’s funny because I never thought my dad was old, he was just my dad. Until that Summer afternoon in my driveway when my best friend invited me to come to her Grams surprise 60th birthday party. She informed me it was going to be a big party because 60 is really old. This moment was equivalent having a friend fill you in on the whole Santa hoax. Wadda mean really old?
Needless to say, the lightbulb went off, the calculator in my head was hard at work and 68 is the final answer. Should I be afraid that the Grim Reaper is lurking in the shadows? Yes, which is exactly what I did from that moment forward. Side note: My mother was 20 years younger, just in case you were going to look me up in the Guinness Book of World Records as the baby born to the oldest woman or something.
He certainly didn’t act old. We went to the shore, amusement parks, and rides to Lancaster, just because he liked chicken and dumplings. We drove for ice-cream on a whim to a special place 45 minutes away, because it was better. We did everything the kids with a young dad did, just with more gray hair.
As I said my dad had a big personality. He was a Jimmy Hoffa/Archie Bunker (without the bigotry) all rolled into one. If he had something to say, he said it. If you crossed him…be afraid. If there was wrong to be righted, he got the job done. How? Who knows and it’s probably better to leave some things to the imagination.
He was a feisty free spirit who lived his life according to his own set of rules. He was loud, stubborn, demanding, certainly not boring, full of life and definitely had a good sense of humor. He never smoked or drank a day in his life, which most likely helped him in the end. I couldn’t even imagine an alcohol induced Jim…I think I just got goosebumps at that thought.
He was a Teamster and drove a truck for a living, but retired when I went to first grade. So in 1971, he became the stay at home dad and my mother went to work. Let’s just draw some more attention to ourselves as being different, shall we?
Both of my parents were very politically active during my childhood, so although he was retired from his job he always had something going on politically. He did go back to work part-time until he was 81. His motto was “always work hard, but remember you’re only a number” and today my siblings and I are all incredibly loyal hard-working adults, despite being a number.
When my dad was 81 he lost part of his foot to diabetes. This was after Dr. Jim decided he would remove his ingrown toenail with pliers. Feel free to read that line again, yes you did read “pliers” and yes, as in the tool in the garage.
Of course, no one knew how bad it was until it was too late. My mother had to retire at that point to care for him for the next 7 years. She refers to that time as “serving her sentence.” The woman is a saint! There isn’t a jury in the land that would convict her if she accidentally sat on that pillow on his face…trust me.
Jim was the worst patient in the ENTIRE world. Try telling an old free spirit …” you can’t”. The sentence “you can’t drive anymore, we need to take your license” was a million times more deadly than that gangrenous foot … for all of us.
Although, I know there were highways out there cheering with joy that Mr. Magoo was finally parked for good. Sitting in the passenger seat could cure even the worst case of constipation.
Honestly, when the man behind the wheel is saying “I’ll drive wherever the hell I want..I pay my taxes” as your entering the street with the red and white DO NOT ENTER sign, you know why your bowels are rumbling!
Although I was born to an older dad, I was fortunate that he hung around long enough to meet my daughter. I found out I was pregnant with my son the day before his funeral. This was a huge surprise, considering I had no recollection of having sex. But, according to that blue plus sign on the stick, I did. My first thought was “Oh, shit!” and rightfully so, because sure enough, there is a stubborn, demanding, free-spirited, outspoken young man who looks very much like my dad, living in my house.
Just remember folks, at 58 my father lived another life. He died when I was 30 years old. So he raised me, watched me get married… twice, became a grandfather for the 7th time and taught me a valuable lesson … you’re never too old to Enjoy the Ride!
Over the years my kids have told me “you’re so embarrassing” about things that aren’t even recognized on the humiliation meter. If someone has a birthday cake in their cart at the supermarket, yes I feel compelled to say “enjoy your celebration.” That’s NOT a big freaking deal! Actually, the conversation is usually longer, but it’s not like I’m asking for an invite. I’m not ruling it out if the cake looks fabulous.
Try standing in the checkout line of the A&P with your dad, who just happens to be the only man shopping, as he lets loose the LOUDEST fart in history. As if that weren’t enough. Every head in the store towards us with looks of horror and disgust as my dad, in true Jim fashion said “what? the doors open it will find its way out.” If my sister and I didn’t die of embarrassment..trust me, no one will!
Recently we attended a graduation party. All the young kids were out on the dance floor, except my son. Apparently he didn’t want me to follow him onto the dance floor. He hasn’t recovered from the Mother/Son incident 2 years ago when I was pretending to lasso him onto the dance floor….”so embarrassing.” Please, it was hilarious and he knows it!
No, embarrassing is when you’re outside jumping rope with all your friends and a Taxi comes rolling down the street. By the way, at this point no one knows what a taxi is, so yes the crowd is forming.
Where does it stop you ask, right in front of my house of course. All heads turn toward me for some sort of answer. The door opens, my dad emerges in a HOSPITAL GOWN and the crowd looks as perplexed as me. Shall we all take a moment and be grateful for the fact he was holding the back together covering his fat ass. I quickly learned the art of diversion. Hey, I’ll be steady-ender!
I think I went wrong by providing my children with the illusion that I was the perfect mother who would never do anything un-mother like in their presence. The key is to start embarrassing them right out of the womb, they’ll never know any different. Let’s just leave those standards for other families.
I never knew any different until I started to notice the perplexed look on everyone else’s face when something was going down in my world. Oh, you mean it’s weird to have megaphones playing music on top of your car? It’s not if your mother is running for State Legislator and your dad is spreading the word. However, it is when he drives by your school and uses those speakers to say “Liiisssaa” while you’re in class.
My kids would have grabbed their lunch money and high tailed it out of Crazy Town!
For god sakes the more I think about it, the more I realize my kids are clueless in their definition of embarrassing. They recently referred to my old Ford Taurus wagon as “so ghetto and embarrassing.” No, it wasn’t my spinners they were referring to, just the fact that the car was old & dirty. Jeez, I wonder who could have contributed to that mess…hmm.
I think terms like “ghetto & embarrassing” could be better served to describe our 1970 something green Caprice Classic, which was already as big a whale without the (2) loud speakers and a 3ft wooden sign sporting my mothers name and barricaded to the roof. This vessel of humiliation was still used as our family car and I never remember referring to it as ghetto or embarrassing.
Honestly, you haven’t lived until you arrive at a 7-Eleven for a Slurpee in a circus on wheels. To this day I know my sister questions her decision to stop for that Slurpee. Live and learn friends, live and learn.
I waited in the
circus car with my dad when she went in for the Slurpee. She was taking her good ole time…poor decision number 2.
Never dilly dally within a 10ft radius of an unfiltered man with a microphone….ever!
As soon as he saw her in line he picked up he microphone and said “What’s taking so long? Get your ass out here!” She slithered right back into the mobile circus as if nothing happened. Taking into consideration if she walked there was the possibility of being followed and spoken to over the speakers, um yea..getting back in was clearly the best decision of the day.
Today these are the moments that give us the biggest laughs, bring us together and are considered memorable, not embarrassing.
No one ever said Memory Lane didn’t have some pot holes, in fact that’s what makes the road more interesting.
My goal is to provide my kids with as many “memories” as I can, so they can laugh about them for years to come. Something tells me I’m off to a good start!
Just fart out loud and Enjoy the Ride!