In My Pocket

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Dad’s Story Part 12

I love my ’65 Ford Mustang.

When I see it I wanna slide across the hood and roll all over it like I’m in a Whitesnake video. When I drive it I wanna hit the gas and just keep on going.  I love it. It’s the car I dreamed of when I was 12. It’s the car I sketched on my pee chee folders in junior high.  When I was in high school all the boys had them. They thought I was starin’ at them, but really, it was their car.  It never changed…in all my twenty nine years it’s been the only car I’ve felt I just had to have.

And I got it.  I love it….but not because it’s my dream car.  No. That’s not why.

The Mustang drove into my life four months before my dad drove out.  When he was still, what we thought, healthy.  In reality, the cancer was in there growing, sucking the life out of him.  When I discovered the car on Cragslist I didn’t immediately buy it…I rolled it around in my noggin a bit.  I knew I couldn’t afford to get the Ford and keep that fantastic   minivan I was cruisin’ around town in.

I know……tough decision.

So I called my dad.  I told him about it and as soon as he said those two magic words, I was sold.

“How neat.”

Looking back…At the time I didn’t realize the effect they had on me subconsciously…those words.  I heard it and I thought…yeah…how neat!

So I bought it.

Good bye minivan…don’t let the door hit ya on the way out.  No regrets. You were never really truly my type anyways….

Sweet Thing.

My car.  I mean MY car.  At last…just for me.  Totally unnecessary and ridiculous.  Unpractical.  A gas hog.  Constant maintenance.  Perfection.

I’d walk out into the garage five times a day just to stare at her.  I swear I never did…but holy hell I wanted to roll all over that hood like Tawney Kitaen.  {Whitesnake video reference.} I swear I never did though.

The last time I saw my dad well and happy was in that car.

*******

Sometimes…as I’ve been writing this, I have to step back…take a breather.  Some chapters have been one paragraph at a time with days or weeks in between.  My heart hurts.  Like someone is wringing everything out of it like a wet towel.  Right now I just want to wrap around my box of tissue in a ball and let it all out.  I want to quit writing, close my computer down and stew in my sadness.  I want to think about all the other shit going on in my life and let my emotions swallow me up.  I want to scream.  I want to hide.  I want to feel my dad’s arms around me and have him pet my hair like he always did, making  me so mad cause he’d totally mess it up….but I wouldn’t care a bit now.  I want to hear him say it’s all going to be okay and, like Elvis and Michael Jackson….he’s really not dead.

*******

A couple days after I got my Mustang Dad dropped by for a look.  We popped the hood and out of nowhere he pulled out a tiny flashlight…Mr. Prepared.  After a thorough inspection of the eight cylinder engine and the interior, along with kicking all the tires, he asked if he could take it for a spin.

I stood on the grass waving, my middle son riding shotgun, as he peeled out of the drive way….a devilish look on his face.

As they cruised the neighborhood I could hear the engine rev and the horn’s nonstop honking.  Oh geez…I’m sure the neighbors loved this.  He came speeding around the corner about ten minutes later…His grandson hanging out the window and giving me the ol’ “ooooooooow!”  Dad used to charm the ladies with that classy move back in the day…only it was me riding shotgun.  So. Awkward.

He pulled in the drive, put it in park and slid out of the car…combing his fingers through his hair and tucking in his shirt.  In total “Kramer”-like fashion he stated, “Man.  There are a lot of cops out there.”

My boy was standing next to him grinning ear to ear.  Dad, too, was smiling.  Not sure if it was from the adrenaline rush from driving the world’s most wonderful car or because he was so tickled that he was behaving like a nut and completely impressing his oldest daughter.

*******

I’ve since gotten another car, for practical reasons; an everyday car.  My Mustang hangs out in the driveway pretty much collecting dust.  For financial reasons she’s not drivable… It makes me sad.  One day I will get her back on the road.  But every now and then I climb into the front seat and rev up the engine…you know…so the battery doesn’t get drained.  I always think of him when I get in that car.

I started her up tonight and as I sat there I started thinking about him.  I thought about that day he was so happy and  about this series I’ve written…his death story.

Part of me feels like its coming to an end…this chapter of my life.  I’ve stewed over these words for over three years.  And now they are out.  Yet they don’t seem to be enough.  There is so much more…this was just a sprinkle of it…a sliver of my dad and who he was.  Though slight in size, Randy was a big man.

How do I wrap something up when I don’t feel like the story is over yet?

*******

You know when people lose an arm or leg they say they can still “feel” it? A phantom limb.  That’s what its like with him….he’s gone but I can still feel him. I feel him… when the sunshine hits my shoulders….when I see a hummingbird hovering nearby…when I smell that wonderful lunchbox combo of apples and Oreos…..when I taste chapstick, that mentolatum kind. I feel him everywhere.

About a year after he passed away I began writing…journaling I guess…about him and what I was feeling.  I wrote this:

I’m still caring around the heartbreak in my pocket.

It’s kind of like being pregnant.  The best way to describe the baby’s movement, that feeling of something that is part of you, yet, is not you, is like having something in my pocket.  The baby floats around within…poking you in spots you weren’t even aware had feelings.   Sometimes you forget it’s there then it moves and you gasp with happiness and wonder.

It’s like that sometimes with Dad. He’s in my pocket.  Something inside me moves and my pocket seems to be filled with sadness and heartbreak and emptiness  It’s not always heartache though…it’s comfort and love.  Its memories and stories….its laughter and joy. I know that in his special way my dad is still there, within me, around me, right next to me, even when I forget….he’s right there….

In my pocket. 

 

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