Living Beyond Boundaries Thanks To Dad

couldn't have done it without you. Father's Day, father's support, thanks Dad,

Image: Florian K

Living beyond the boundaries of streetlights, I often drive on dark country roads where fog hides in the hillsides. Sometimes only tendrils of mist reach up from the ground. More often I’m engulfed in clouds so heavy that the road is obscured. Straining to see the turns on these narrow lanes, I’m not stressed. I smile. I’m thinking of my father.

“People call this kind of heavy fog ‘pea soup,’” my father had explained to me when I was a first grader.

Although he leaned intently over the steering wheel, he easily kept up our conversation. “But it doesn’t look like soup to me,” he asked. “What would you call it?”

Beyond our windshield it looked like a white wall as our headlights reflected off the water vapor. His voice remained cheerful. He told me about being a radar man in the Navy and described the sound of foghorns.

“What we’re going to do, Honey, is blow the car horn to let other cars know we’re coming. It’ll be our foghorn. That way we can navigate our way past the fog.”

We drove on through the dark, he and I, talking and laughing and pretending we were piloting a ship through the waves. Before each bend he gave a blast on the car horn. It was delicious to me—my daddy taking part in a giant game of pretend. And better yet, engaging in the forbidden act of making noise, waking up the night to say we’re here.

My father never let on that the ride that night was dangerous or that the prattling of a little girl was hard on his concentration.

Although his own childhood was marred by the early death of his father, his mother’s chronic illness, and the hard work that comes with poverty, he overcame those limitations. He went on to a career as a public school teacher where he helped hundreds of other children find the best in themselves.

I know he had a way of making me feel important, no matter the task. On our camping trips he assigned me the job of signaling as he backed up the trailer. At home I got to help with all sorts of repairs. Once when I wanted to help him install a hot water tank he didn’t let on that an eight-year-old would be in the way. Instead he said what he really wanted was for me to read him some poetry because that would make a difficult job more pleasant. He put me safely on a stool a few feet away where I read aloud from a junior book of verse while he wrestled with the chore. Occasionally he sat back on his heels in appreciation at the end of a poem. He talked about discovering the great poets when he got to college, even described the large brown book he’d saved from a literature class for his own children to enjoy some day. When he was done, he said he couldn’t have done it without me, the same thing he always said.

He never found that big book of poetry he’d hoped to share. But my father gave me something more precious.  Complete acceptance. And when a girl has that kind of love from her father she carries with her the self-assurance to transcend any boundaries.

My dad always shrugged off praise and begged his kids not to bother giving him gifts. So each year when Father’s Day rolled around I bought a blank card. Inside I wrote him a fond memory of my childhood and how that resonated in my sometimes challenging life.

This is my fourth Father’s Day without my dad. If I could I’d tell him, “I couldn’t have done it without you.”

thanks Dad, dad as lighthouse,

Originally published on Wired

About Laura Grace Weldon

Laura Grace Weldon is a writer and editor, perhaps due to an English professor's scathing denunciation of her writing as "curious verbiage." She's the author of "Free Range Learning," a handbook of natural learning and "Tending," a poetry collection. (lauragraceweldon.com) She's working on her next book, "Subversive Cooking" (subversivecooking.com). She lives on Bit of Earth Farm where she is a barely useful farm wench. Although she has deadlines to meet she often wanders from the computer to preach hope, snort with laughter, cook subversively, talk to chickens and cows, discuss life’s deeper meaning with her surprisingly tolerant offspring, sing to bees, hide in books, walk dogs, concoct tinctures, watch foreign films, and make messy art.
This entry was posted in girls, holiday, independence, memoir, parenting and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Living Beyond Boundaries Thanks To Dad

  1. ksfinblog says:

    You were really lucky………. Cherish those memories… :P

  2. Bernie DeKoven says:

    What a happy father he must have been to have a friend like you.

  3. tric says:

    I still miss my Dad. He died young over twenty years ago, but I have great memories of him, as you obviously do too.
    Wouldn’t it be lovely to buy them a card once more.

  4. hollyhilla says:

    Where did you find/take that gorgeous lighthouse picture? Loved your descriptions of your times with your Dad. Great writing.

  5. realfoodroad says:

    What a gentle man. Thank you for sharing; this will be my 9th Father’s Day without mine. While I can’t say he was as thoughtful or gentle, I always knew he loved me and was proud of me. I still miss him.

  6. I had a challenging relationship with my own dad, but I doesn’t make me envious of others’ great ones. I think this helps me see why. I am heartened by this kind of love, no matter who the giver or whom the recipient. Thank you so much for the sense of peace you convey with this.

  7. Dana says:

    I had a great Dad like that too. He was interested in my opinion about things. It’s been 4 years for me too. :-(

    • My husband continues to teach me a profound lesson about grief. When a loved one who has passed away comes to mind, instead of falling into sadness for what once was, he tells me to greet each memory with joy. We’re remembering love or difficulties or, as is so often true with my family, absurdity. The memory is an opportunity to relive a moment we shared with a loved one. Those moments make us who we are today.

      I have my own spin on this as well. Sometimes when a loved one comes to mind I pause to consider my life right now—-what I’m doing, thinking about, deciding. And then I ask myself why that person came to mind. What would they tell me about what I’m doing, thinking, deciding. I try to use memory as a tool of guidance.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s