Memories of Dad

June 20, 2010

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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.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Martin Kelly
    Jun 21, 2010 @ 16:33:53

    The year was 1969. August 28, opening day of Three Rivers Stadium for football. The New York Giants were in town. My family had travelled from upstate New York to visit my grandparents in Pittburgh for the end of summer. My grandfather had gotten two tickets to the game. He was going to take my father to the game. Life was good. Or so it seemed.

    August 28 is also my birthday. That particular August 28 was my 5th birthday. I am the youngest son of the only son. My grandmother informed my father and grandfather that there was no way they were going to the game. My grandfather quietly walked out of the house and went next door. He handed the tickets over to his long time neighbor and quietly returned.

    There was a cake and presents. All the celebration was over by 1:00 eastern time so that they could at least watch the game on TV. It was only preseason, but Pittsburgh Steelers football is more of a religion than a sport.

    I remember the situation well. My grandfather sitting in his chair. My father sitting in my grandmother’s chair. I was lying on the floor in front of the TV playing with the match box cars I recieved as presents. I remember the carpet highway, a terrible accident, a firetruck and ambulance to the rescue. Glancing up, I would see large men running into one another. It was all black and white, some guys wore black shirts with white patnts, the others were white all over. The guys in black had black helmets with a weird symbol on just one side. The other guys had dark helmets with NY on each side.

    It was just at the end of the first quarter, as the guys on TV switched sides, when my mother, grandmother and sister entered the room. Grandma was all dressed up and was holding her purse. “Where are you going”, my grandfather asked. “Shopping” was the answer. The women left, the game continued and I continued to smash my cars together.

    My father was quiet for the entire 10 hour drive home the next day. In fact there was never a comment made, until 35 years later when Three Rivers Stadium was being torn down. I asked my father if he realized that the stadium had opened for football on my 5th birthday. “Yes” he responded, “I remeber that day very well”. Just for the record, Pittsburgh lost.


  2. kosmo
    Jun 22, 2010 @ 11:02:05

    Oh, wow. I can imagine there was some silence in your grandparents’ house that night, too.


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