Thanks Dad for the Hard Lessons

Thanks Dad for the Hard Lessons

I Didn’t Always Like It

Dad, I didn’t really enjoy cleaning all those car parts when I was a kid. The smell of kerosene on my hands and the grease under my fingernails weren’t the most pleasant. It seems I was only 6 or 7 years old when you’d hand me those wheel bearings and a butter tub half filled with gasoline and have me get them shiny clean.

Hard Work

You didn’t buy me a car when I turned 16, but you helped me get one on the road. You stood by as I overhauled the engine just like you’d showed me when you made me help with yours. You taught me to sand off all the rust spots on the body, covering the big holes with fiberglass, and “bondo” and sand and “bondo” and sand until each spot was smooth.  You called in a favor from a friend to help rebuild the transmission. We then chose the paint and painted it together. Then mom let me pick out the material and she re-upholstered the seats.

Some of my friends were driving much nicer vehicles purchased by their parents. I received much greater gifts. I learned the value of hard work. I learned the love of a mom and dad who helped me grow by teaching me skills. I gained confidence that I could take care of problems when they arose.

Lessons Learned

Painting “Old Blue” – My first car was a ’71 Ford Maverick bought from my bother for $50.

I wasn’t driving a flashy new car. I was driving ’71 Ford Maverick. It was over a decade old and put back together with hard work and sweat accompanied by lessons learned from two loving parents. Parents who loved me enough to provide what I needed and not give me everything I wanted.

Of course, like many teenagers, I didn’t appreciate those lessons immediately. It was during the following years that the full value of those early lessons was realized. I vividly remember my first year in college. It was a very cold winter morning and the choke hung on that Maverick like it was prone to do in cold weather. I was in a hurry to get to class on the Daniel Baker campus, so I grabbed a pen cap, opened the breather cover, and stuck that cap in the butterfly to hold it open.

Life’s Curveballs

Sure enough, the engine started right up, but because I had used the cap and not a whole pen, I immediately knew I had a problem. The cap got sucked right down into the intake manifold and stuck in one of the valves. I made it around campus, but I knew I couldn’t make it back home to see my girlfriend the next day.

There weren’t many of my college friends who would have the confidence or the experience to take care of that problem on their own. That afternoon (after giving you a call) I purchased a gasket kit from the local auto parts store. I borrowed a torque wrench from a friend (the only tool I didn’t already have in my tool box). Right there in the parking lot of Jennings dorm on the Howard Payne University campus, I took the engine apart, removed the troublesome pen cap, and got the engine up and running. The next day I drove back home and never missed my date with that beautiful young lady.

Dad, I Miss You

I miss you, Dad. Life has thrown me many more difficult and painful curveballs than the pen cap in the intake valve. It has been 2 years since you took your last breath on this earth. I don’t work on my own cars as much as I used to. However, I still have the confidence and knowledge to do many things with my own hands that many of my peers don’t. I hope you were proud when I stood next to your casket and honored you as best I could.

Thanks for the Lessons, Thanks for Your Time

I didn’t always like the hard work or the dirty jobs, but I’m grateful you made me join you in the garage and under the shade tree. I am thankful for the lessons you taught. It wasn’t just about cars. I can clean my own fish, butcher my own deer, tile a floor, repair a waterline, build a fence, and take care of many other things. I am grateful for all the things you taught me.

I’m most grateful for the time you spent with me. Time that flies by much too quickly.

Thank you, dad.

I miss you.

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