If You Want a Ride in My Car

>> Sunday, 25 June 2006

There was a time when I thought my dad didn’t know a thing about being a good father. I couldn’t remember him every saying the words, “I love you. “ It seemed to me his sole purpose in life was to say “no” to anywhere I wanted to go and anything I wanted to do. Including getting a car. Some parents bought their kids cars when they got their driver’s licenses. Not my dad – he said I’d have to get a job and buy my own.

So that’s what I did. “I’ll show him,” I said to myself. “If he won’t get it for me, I’ll get it for myself.” I got a job as a busgirl at a very nice, ocean-view restaurant and saved every penny I could. And when I had enough to buy my own car, I did! The day I brought that car home, my dad was the first one I wanted to show it off to. “Look, Dad, a car of my own – all on my own. If you ever wanted a ride, I’ll only charge you five dollars,” I offered with a smug smile.

“I see,” was all he said.

One day, my father’s truck had to go to the shop and wouldn’t be ready to pick up until the next evening. So he needed a ride to work. “If that five-dollar offer is still open,” my dad said, “I’ll take you up on it.”

“Okay, but you have to pay on delivery. I don’t accept credit.”

“I see,” was all he said.

The sun wasn’t even up when we left the house, but it was already getting warm out. It was going to be a hot day. As I dropped my dad off, I watched him, dressed in his work clothes and boots, getting his tools from the trunk of my car. Watching his every move, hoping that he’d hurry so that I could get back home and get ready for my own day, I squinted in the rear view mirror at his sun-weathered face, and even from a distance I could tell there were more lines than I ever remembered being there before. I thought about it and then realized how hard my dad works for his family. My father is a cement finisher.

Watching him lift the heavy tools from the car, buckets full of trowels, knee pads and other finishing tools, there was something about him that looked a little fragile than I recalled. In that instant, it occurred to me that he actually got down to his hands and knees to sweat over hot concrete to make a living for his family. And he did this day in and day out, no matter how hot it got. Never, not once, had I heard him complain about it. Never had he held it up to his children as being some great sacrifice he made for us. I thought about how much he must love us – so much that he’s willing to do this hard labour in hot weather, and without so much as ever complaining or asking for anything in return. To him, we were “worth” it. And never once did he “charge” us for it.

When he slammed the trunk, his tools set off to the side, he walked over to my window to hand me my five dollars. I rolled down the window and said, “Good-by, Dad. Keep your five dollars. It’s on me. Don’t work too hard. I love you.”

At first he looked puzzled, then in a clumsy sort of way – pleased. “I won’t,” he said, then added, “Thanks for the ride in your beautiful new car.” His eyes met mine then glanced away in the direction of his waiting tools, he cleared his throat and said, “Oh, and… me, too.”

As I drove away, I knew “me, too” was enough because my father showed me his love with his actions, day after day, year after year. In that moment, I decided I’d give him a ride in my car any time he wanted – free of charge.

Marie Parada, 18

~ Taste Berries for Teens

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