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Being Dad


I grew up in a house that by today’s standard, is almost unusual. I had both of my original parents with me every day. It’s a situation that statistically is occurring less and less frequently these days. My mom and dad didn’t have a lot of money, but we made it by okay. When things would break, my dad would fix them. I never knew how he knew what was broken, but he always seemed to know. I guess a lot of our stuff would break when I was a kid, because it seems like dad was always fixing one thing, or another.

Watching dad work on stuff was way more fun than any action movie I was allowed to watch as a kid. It had all the same stuff too, explosions, bleeding, outbursts of frustration and contempt. It was awesome! Dad was by far my favorite action hero! The plots were always the same (kind of like the old Elvis movies). A perfectly good Saturday would be interrupted by some sort of a breakdown. It would be time for Dad to suit up. He’d go get is tool box, and like two or three pairs of glasses, and get into it. I always wanted Dad to win, even though I knew his weaknesses would work against him in full force. I knew what the broken dryer, or bad brakes on the car didn’t…Dad’s weakness is the dark, and oddly enough the very glasses that he needed to see. He’d plug in a lamp near where he was working so that during the course of the repair, he could knock it over, and blow the bulb. Next, he would put on his “work” glasses. They were easy enough to distinguish, as they were the pair with the scratched lens, or the missing left side. When these things were squared away, Dad would open the box that held every obscure tool on the planet, and begin putting the smack down on his obstacles. He’d do pretty well for about 20 or so minutes, then the plot would thicken. Once inside the jaws of the beast, it would lash out at him! Sometimes a wrench would slip, and he’d bust up his hand on the car. Sometimes he’d raise his head, totally unaware that the dryer had managed to close in on him, and he’d cut the top of his bald head. Either way, an explosion would happen! A wrench, screwdriver, or the work glasses would have to be thrown! There was no other way to combat the pain! Once the tool chucking was complete, he’d take a break to assess and repair whatever was hurt. He’d put band-aids on his head, or his hands, and sometimes the insanely comfortable black tape on the work glasses if they needed it, and get back to work. He’d more often than not, find a better way to get around the issue that caused the injury, and back to it he’d go. Eventually, he’d get to the damaged part, and after a trip to a hardware store, would be on his way to reassembly. Cue the weakness. It’s generally this point that the light has to go. He would deftly kick over the lamp without my realizing what he was doing. once he was plunged into the darkness, things would begin to get a bit touchy. He’d fumble around for a while trying to feel his way through the reassembly. After a while though, the strain of working in the dark while wearing the work glasses would take its toll. Dad’s head would begin to hurt, and regardless of the rocket-fuel coffee he was drinking, he’d have to slow down long enough to proclaim the greatest words of disgust ever uttered by a human, “THESE STUPID GLASSES! I’M GOING TO THROW THEM ACROSS THE ROAD!” That’s when I knew the job was near completion. The glasses always pulled a Benedict Arnold on Dad when the project was nearly complete. To me, it was the equivalent of Mel Gibson screaming that “They’ll never take away OUR FREEDOM!!!” The show was winding down. We’d had a few uncertain moments in the middle, and one or two near the end, but Dad always seemed to win. The dryer would fire up again, and Mom would be able to get the laundry dry, or the car would be taken for a test drive. The test drive was always a treat, because if something wasn’t right, it would mean the whole show would have to be replayed. I’m glad it never happened, I’m not sure my nerves or my hero could’ve handled it.


1 Comment

  1. Michelle Cheeks says:

    Dead on Joe! Love it! But I can’t help but feel blessed all over again that the only outbursts we witnessed from Dad were directed toward inanimate appliances and eyeglasses and never his wife or kids.

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