Monday, June 16, 2008

Belated Father's Day

I realize it’s a day late, but I wanted to say something about my dad for Father’s Day. He passed away about 18 months ago after a three year battle with cancer.

He was a good man, very funny, but gruff. Rough around the edges. Hard shell, soft center. He never met a stranger, talked to anyone and everyone he met. A farm boy at heart, raised in a rural community, never lived more than two hours from where he was born.

Dad placed his love for family above everything else. He loved his wife and children with great passion and persistence; sometimes too persistent.

Like all teenagers, I thought my dad was the most embarrassing person on the planet, bent on making my life miserable just because he could.

When I went to get my driver’s permit, I was so nervous, I thought I would throw-up. And of course, my calm and serene mother had to work, so gruff, hot-headed, humiliating dad had to take me. He sat in a chair in the back while I took the test, and waited while I turned it in and had to answer some questions.

The instructor, not a very nice man and probably sick to death of dealing with arrogant, annoying teenagers asked me a simple question, “Where are you at in Driver’s Ed?”

My befuddled brain didn’t compute the question correctly and I asked him to repeat it, “Huh?”

He rolled his eyes and huffed. “Where are you at in Driver’s Ed?”

I still didn’t get it, and told him the name of the town where I took my driver’s ed class.

“No, where are you AT in Driver’s Ed?”

I told him the name of the town again.

He growled and leaned forward. “I’m only going to ask you one more time, where are you at in Driver’s Ed?”

I turned tear-filled eyes to my dad, sure I’d just blown my chance at getting a driver’s permit because I still didn’t get the question. I looked back at the instructor mumbled, “I’m sorry,” and started to leave when two massive hands slapped down on the counter beside me, and my dad glared at the instructor.

“Is there a problem here?”

The smaller instructor shriveled behind his counter and became the epitome of pleasant. “No, sir. No problem. Just trying to find out if she finished driver’s ed.”

My father glanced at my red-rimmed eyes, cherry nose, and splotchy cheeks (and I know this is how I looked, because that’s how I look when I’m trying not to cry, like I’ve been crying). I nodded vigorously, and said, “Yes. Yes, I’m finished with driver’s ed.”

“That’s all I was trying to find out,” the instructor said indignantly. He handed me the permit.

“Honey, go wait out in the pick-up for me, okay?” my dad said.

I nodded and headed out the door. I sat and waited. My father came out shortly, frown etched between his brows. “That man should not be allowed to deal with the public,” was the only comment he made the whole ride home.

I found out later, from my mom, that dad threatened to put a boot up his butt if the instructor ever spoke like that to me or any other kid trying to get their license again. And he filed a complaint with the guy’s supervisor.

No matter how embarrassed I was about my dad, I know he loved us and stood up for us whenever we needed him.

Maybe next Father’s Day, I’ll blog about the time my brother broke his arm, and dad threatened to throw a nurse through the window.

Happy Father’s Day.

No comments: