“Dad, can you drive me down to the sandwich shop?”
“But you just had lunch. All this running is giving you an appetite.”
I laughed. “I’m not hungry, Dad. I need to turn in an application for a job. I’d walk down, but I don’t want to be all sweaty and stuff by the time I get there.”
“Oh. Well, you’ll need your social security number, and a list of references–”
“I got all those Dad. I just need a ride.”
“Huh. When did you get so independent? I had to practically force your brothers into the car and pay the manager to hire them myself.”
I laughed, thinking about how stubborn my brothers could be and the endless possibilities that awaited them if they would simply put their determination to better use. At least that’s what Dad was always saying. Not that any of them listened. Or had missed their crucial conversation with Dad that would make them a believer.
Like the one I had.
Dad grabbed his keys while I waited anxiously by the car. Anxious…excited…ready to overcome my latest fear and enter the world of the working class. I took a deep breathing knowing that nobody got very far by being afraid. Or lazy, although sometimes I wondered if laziness was just another form of fear. I mean, Dad barely took any time for himself and he wasn’t afraid of anything. The times when he wasn’t doing anything is when he seemed most unsure of himself.
Just like I felt the night he changed my life.
We got into the car and Dad drove the few miles to the sandwich shop that I hoped would be my home away from home for the next few months of summer. Maybe longer if I could balance my schedule just right. On the way I thought about how I had gotten to this point and just how much my Dad had already helped me and didn’t know it.
“Dad, you asked me how I got to be so independent. Do you really want to know?”
He looked over at me with surprise and smiled encouragingly. “Of course.”
“Do you remember the time I wanted to run down the mini-mart by myself? It was night and I was a little nervous, but you said something that made it all right. Something that changed my life.”
“Really? Just one thing?”
“Well, no, I guess you’ve said a lot of things, but there was one thing that pretty much summed it up. I asked you if you were worried about me going down alone and you instantly shook your head no. I was kind of hurt at first thinking you didn’t care about my safety, but then you said, ‘Why would I be worried? If anyone wanted to hurt you they’d have to catch you first and you’re too fast for that to ever happen.’”
He smiled and I could tell he was thinking back to that conversation and how his words had been misconstrued. We both knew he had been making a joke and yet there was an element of truth to what he was saying. I was a runner, and he had just called me fast. Complimenting me on my abilities while trusting me to take care of myself. It was like I was a whole new me, without the constant need for fatherly protection. Instead of feeling scared or abandoned, I felt empowered. Strong. And I knew that I could do anything…because my father believed in me.
“Well, it’s true,” he said. “Although you know taking a job means less time for running. Maybe even missing a meet or two.”
“I’m sure I can work out something with the boss. And I’ll get my run in on the way to work each day. That’s what you did for a while. Remember when the car broke down? You rode your bike to work. I figure if you can do it so can I. Just not today,” I smiled.
“Yes, I think you’ll manage things just fine. You’re a pretty smart girl for being so young.”
“Only because I have a pretty smart Dad.”
My father was my hero, but not because he saved anyone’s life. He was my hero because… he taught me how to save my own.
Now it’s your turn to share your own experience about your father. Experience, thoughts, comments, or perhaps a story of your own that we all need to hear. Remember you can earn a jewel for your blog by linking back to your own story. All part of our Treasure Tuesday enticement.
For those who aren’t ready to share and need some time to think, consider next week’s prompt: The room was dark and the air a stifling mix of dust and sweat, but I wouldn’t have traded anything to be here…