Tuesday, August 23, 2011
The other night as I was finishing up reading Eliza her bedtime stories, I started to tell her some stories from my childhood and some stories about my dad. Although we do talk about my dad and David’s dad quite a bit with her, I had yet to tell her an actual STORY. At first, I wasn’t quite sure what to say, I just knew I wanted to tell her a story from my childhood about my dad. I had a hard time thinking of something actually. I wondered, is my memory that horrible?? So I started to ramble about how my dad walked me to my bus stop at Hubbard Elementary School each morning and how he would hold my hand and then later, in middle school, he drove us to a different bus stop, in the parking lot between Thompson Recreation Center and what is now Fifth Ave School and we would wait in the car for the bus to come. I reenacted how there were a couple of nasty speed bumps (or were they potholes?) and we bounced in the recliner together. Then I rambled about how my dad would often get us lost on road trips and tell us he was taking the scenic route although I could not remember any particular trip or details.
Finally I started to remember how there was this time when I was about 13 or 14 and I went to the car wash with my dad. I don’t remember which car wash we went to or any other details like that, but this time as we were pulling out to leave, the horn started going off by itself. Maybe water go into the horn, who knows, but it wouldn’t stop. I mean it was BLARING and people were staring at us. We ended up driving home south down High St. right through OSU campus. I doubt this really bothered my dad much, but I was a teenager and completely mortified! I remember I ducked down in the passenger seat so no one would see me, I was so embarrassed!! We drove all the way home with the horn screeching. It stopped right before we parked in front of our house.
I guess if you ramble long enough you do remember something.
There I was telling Eliza a story, not just a detail. When I stopped, Eliza said: “More.” It was as if we had just finished one of her favorite books. It felt really good. I also almost cried of course.
I told her the story three more times. We eventually pretended to duck down ‘embarrassed’ when I got to that part. We scrunched down in the recliner and covered our heads. At the second or third telling she asked, “You washed the car? In the bathtub?” She was nodding to me like she really only asked this to confirm that this was the correct answer.
I really love the way toddler brains work sometimes. “No,” I told her. “We went to a car wash.” I went on to explain a car wash with minimal details and told her we would go to a car wash next week so she could see one.
Fast forward to this week. Finally, after two days of asking, I told her we would go to the car wash. I told the story a couple more times and then she asks me,
“Is Papa Carl gonna be there?”
And there it was, the first time where I had to in some way explain his absence. I wasn’t expecting it. I cried a little. I hugged Eliza and explained that no, he wouldn’t be there and we could take a picture along with us. We copied a picture (above) of my dad standing in front of a train engine and Eliza carried it with her most of the day. It was a little heart breaking and sweet and it is just how it is. But as hard as it is sometimes, it feels good to talk about him and remember...and above all else just tell some stories about him.