The year was 1999 and I was living in Illinois.  My parents came up for a weekend visit.  At the time, I was driving a 1988 Ford Taurus.  Among its many positive features was the fact that it was paid off in full.  I had poured a bit of money into it over the few years I owned it, but it had been a pretty reliable car.  It had about 130,000 miles on it, but I liked it.

On this particular weekend, Dad noticed that the car seemed to not be driving very smoothly and asked when I had last replaced the spark plugs.  That would be never.  When it comes to cars, I pump gas and check the fluids and air pressure.  That’s about the extent of it.  Dad didn’t want me spending a lot of money getting the plugs replaced, so he decided to do it himself.

It was raining that weekend, and I didn’t have covered parking, so we sought a covered space for the job.  A municipal parking garage fit the bill.  It would keep us dry, even if the lighting was pretty bad.  Actually, since we parked near an exterior wall to maximize the available light, it didn’t even keep us completely dry.  It wasn’t the greatest environment for the job, but Dad persevered and got the plugs changed, with some (but not much) help from me.  He was 76 at the time; I was an able-bodied (but mechanically challenged) 24 year old.  The Taurus was back in tip top shape.

The very next weekend, I headed back to Iowa to visit some friends.  As I came around a curve on westbound I-74, I encountered another group of friends – a small herd of deer gathered on the interstate.  I managed to elude all but one of the deer.  Although the car was still mechanically sound, the amount of body damage rendered it a total loss. 

The time and effort my dad spent replacing the plugs was completely wasted – but it was never forgotten.


If you wish, share a memory of your own father.


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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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