I'd like to ask a favour of those that frequent this little space on the Interweb-a-thing-a-ma-bob. A friend of ours has suffered the loss of his Father. Stop by if you can and let him know we're all putting he and his family in our prayers. It only takes a few seconds, and I'm sure it'll go a lot farther than you give it credit.
This adds to a long line of those my age, that I've had to offer my condolences to. The weird thing is, Eleven! This was the 11th. time in about a year that I've said to another man, "let me know if there's anything I can do." I honestly don't just say that. I truly mean it. If there's any way I can help, be it an ear to bend, a shoulder to cry on or a spot to vent or tell stories of memories long past, I'm willing to be that for those in need. But what makes it weird is, Eleven! After 11 of these same messages and heartfelt condolences going out to friends I've met, and some that I haven't, it's finally starting to kick in to this "Peanut-brained" little kid, that my own Father is of an age that becomes dreadfully far, on the "other side" of mortality.
This has been a difficult concept for me to grasp. You see, my Dad was always, "The Dad." My earliest recollections are of a garage full of the "cool" guy's building some form of Stock Car or Super-Modified race car. I learned what soap really tasted like in pre-school at The Russell Day Nursery, at the age of 5. (on my Birthday no less) Because when it came time for Rice Pudding to be served, I responded in "Garage-ease" as it was known at the time. "There ain't no way I'm eatin' that shit!" to be exact. It may have been crude and way out of line for the normal 5 year old of the time but for me, it was just business as usual for the "cool" kids.
In this the first installment of a look at my life growing up under and around "Barney," I thought I'd take a look at the very early years. With what has gone on for others near my age slowly starting to sink in, I thought I'd rather say the things I want to, while the old man's still around to piss off. Forgive me Father, for I'm about to sin, all over again.
Dad's friends back then, were a group of family that included almost everyone named "Uncle" something or other. There were real Uncles of course, my Dad's brother and my Mothers as well. Then there was "Uncle Bob," "Uncle Bill," Uncle Jim" and so on. This lasted until I was old enough to have a beer with the boy's. That day came when I was old enough to weild a wrench, a hammer and dolly, or just find and deliver the right tool for the job when requested. So at the ripe old age of 8, I was having a beer with the boys about once a week. Before you get the wrong impression completely, remember the gentleness of the era and the seemingly harmlessness of it all in a time gone by. To say those were the good old day's is something of an understatement. Consider that after working on a 600hp Super-Modified race car, it was only natural to test it out by running up and down the Service Road or newly built, Queen Elizebeth Highway. (It had ramps to check turning issues and three lanes to let 'er rip if you wanted) Local Police back then were proud of the local boy's doing good at a track all the way down in Oswego NY. I remember one engine change to a huge big-block Hemi that once completed, had the Police block this brand new highway for almost 15 minutes! Just enough time for the car to make about 9 or 10 laps from Walkers to Guelph lines. I sat in amazement at the incredible speed that the car could achieve. Where did I sit in amazement? The only natural place of the times, on the center gaurdrail of the QEW! It was a different time indeed.
Of course it wasn't all romance and fast cars, there was always an un-written rule. To get, you have to give. A day's work without some good old fashioned sweat on your brow, had nothing to do with work at all. The rule was simple. There was no staying out of the way and keeping quiet in Dad's garage. You did your work and got it done right. The work would be checked one time and only if it was something new to you and it was the first time you'd done it solo. After that, it was never checked again. It was a given that you knew your job and did it well. Hell had no fury like my Father if something you did on one of his cars, failed during the life of the vehicle. I was welding by age 10. That in and of itself, should tell you how hard I worked to be part of my Dad's little team. He would count on my ability to hold together the very frame that would twist and complain under terrible protest, from some of the most powerful engines of the day. I took that job very serious.
There was never a day that I can remember, that the cars or the gang, took priority over family. But one day when I came home, I knew that something wasn't just right in the family. My Mother and Father sat me down, and explained that they had "just grown apart." As is typically the case and despite my advanced education in the garage, I wasn't prepared for the "D" word in my family. It happened anyway and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Looking back now, I'm amazed that it didn't happen so very much earlier. As I look back into the past and and evaluate things in the current day, I can say that my parents are about as polar opposite as it gets in this world. The plan was formed that I was better off with my Mother. I was not consulted on this decision for some reason. So I spent several years after the event as the only male in a house of 3 females and basically left to fend for myself.
Dad and I spent our time together on just about every other weekend. We did our thing and had our fun. That is one thing that has never changed over the 40+ years I have memories of my Father, everything has to be fun. If not, you're wasting your time doing it. Yes you must work and you must work damn hard. But since you have to, you might as well make the best of it. I try and consider this lesson every single day.
In some up-coming installements; how to be a Dad, teaching your son a valuable lesson and of course my personal favorite, realizing you're both too old to fight about anything anymore.
If you can reach your Dad, give him a hug, handshake or whatever else it is that you have between you to show that bond of love and appreciation. If only a phone call is possible, I say give him a ring. Getting the chance to do this now, is way better than the alternative in my book.
My sincerest thanks for dropping by....