The back of the station wagon was weighed down with ice which my father asked me to pickup for the award’s ceremony that evening. High school graduation was less than a week away, and I was busy planning for college and an LDS mission.
But I’d taken a wrong turn and became lost.
I turned the radio off and sat up as straight as I could. As if somehow that would help me find my way back.
My heart was beating against my chest so violently that I thought I could hear it. I had to concentrate if I was going to make it back to the school in time.
And that’s when disaster struck.
As I turned the corner and began to accelerate faster than I should, I heard the loud *SMACK* of the speed bump connecting with the car’s underside. But that wasn’t the worst part. As I slammed on the brakes and pulled to the side of the road, I noticed large cracks in the windshield.
My first thought was “Dad is going to go ballistic”.
Most of the cars we’d owned over the years were older and had at least one major flaw. The Brown Hornet (Chevy Malibu) would catch fire and could only be driven safely during the winter when the flames under the hood could be doused with snow. The driver’s side door on the Temptation (Buick Skyhawk) could only be shut from the outside. I drove around Ogden, Utah for several years with my right hand on the steering wheel while my left arm held the door closed.
But this station wagon was different. It’s the first car I remember my father gathering the family greet as he pulled it into the carport under the prime spot without the water leak. It was as if we were welcoming a new family member.
It was a big 9 passenger Buick station wagon. Old school with the seat in rear facing backwards and bench seating elsewhere. Huge AC Delco radio ready for any Def Leppard to come across KJQ. As we all stood in awe of our new arrival, my mom asked, “So you bought a green wagon, Dave?”
“It’s champagne”, my father replied.
As I stood on the curb waiting for my father to arrive, I was well aware of the importance he placed on that car. And the thought of having to explain the accident was making me sick. The tailpipe was smashed flat. The windshield was broken. And only a mechanic could tell us what other damage I’d caused.
I watched nervously as my father finally arrived and began walking around the car to assess the damage.
I’m sure he could sense I was upset at myself. What I didn’t know at this time was that in about an hour I would be accepting an academic scholarship that would put me through my first two years of college. My father knew about it, but didn’t want to spoil the surprise.
Nor did he want to ruin my evening even though I’d basically trashed his car. I was expecting the worst. I deserved it.
And here is where I learned something about my father. Instead of ripping me to shreds, he walked over to the curb, put his hand on my shoulder and said, “I’m just glad you’re OK. That’s why we have insurance”.
This is a memory I cherish as we celebrate Father’s Day. I’ve always admired how my father is able to see the big picture. He never dwells on the negative nor does he hold grudges. I know we can debate a subject fiercely yet walk away friends.
Nearly 1000 miles separates us today. Yet memories like this one make the distance seem small.
Thank you, dad. Happy Father’s Day.