Now I get it, Dad.

I obsessively turn off lights when I leave a room.
I know love can be expressed through auto maintenance.
I consider a shower lasting longer than ten minutes extravagant.
I think neighborliness includes a decently kept yard.
I always put my shoes away.

This is my father’s heritage in me.  None of this have I successfully imparted in my own children, despite years of effort.

There were times he must have felt like I was a lost cause, too.  There were times, I know, when he looked at his children and thought, “How stupid can you be?”

Like the time he handed me cash as he told me, “Go to Sears and buy a new battery for you car.”

I was in college, blissfully unaware that I needed a new battery.  Not one for unnecessary spending, I trusted that if he said I needed one, I did.

As soon as I could, I went to Sears and bought the battery.

On my next visit home, he looked under the hood of my car and, clearly irritated, said, “I thought I told you to buy a new battery.”

Dad, I get it now.

How stupid could I be?

“I did.  It’s in the trunk.”

The look on his face.  Incredulous.  How stupid could his daughter be?  Has she really been driving around with the battery in her trunk for months?

Yes, yes I had, and as soon as I saw the look on his face, I realized this had been a mistake.

Then the grin, amusement over riding anger and annoyance, as he told me that I was supposed to get it installed; it was included in the price.

“Oh.  I thought it was like the oil changes.  Something you liked to do yourself.”

“No,” he shook his head.  “Go back to Sears and get your battery installed.”

How stupid could I be?  I was less embarrassed by the laughing guys at Sears Automotive when I returned to ask them to please install the battery than I was by that look on my own father’s face.

Fast forward twenty five years.

My fifteen year old daughter, staring at me, sighs the dramatic sighs of the bored.  More than once.  Glancing out the window at the patio nearly over-run with grass and weeds, I respond, “I thought you were told to weed the patio this summer?”

She snaps, “I’ll get to it by the end of the summer!”

I look at her, incredulous.  How stupid can my daughter be?  Could she really think we meant “by the end of the summer?”

“It doesn’t work like that,” I say.  “The aim is to pull all the weeds out now, so we can use the patio during the summer.  Then it’s only a small job to keep up with it when new weeds grow.”  I try not to laugh as I see the look on her face change.  The mortification of having misunderstood something so obvious.

I miss you, Dad.  Your granddaughter might be, like her mother, slow on the uptake, but she is an excellent gardener.  You would have liked her.

I am taking part in a Blog Hop.  For more memories of fathers and daughters by Generation Fabulous, click here.

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31 thoughts on “Now I get it, Dad.

    • There have been so many times, while raising teens and now young adults, when I would have liked to have said, “Kids really are stupid, aren’t they, Dad?”

  1. Beautiful post! Your father took good care of you, and I’m sure you do the same for your daughter. It’s hard to celebrate Father’s Day without a father, don’t you agree?

  2. I remember my Dad showing me how to change a tire before I took a road trip. Good solid practical Dad advice. I’m glad, however, that I’ve never had to change a tire.

  3. Aww…we learn these things in our own time–but I know what you mean about that mortifying feeling of screwing up something so seemingly basic!

  4. Beautiful that you came to terms with how your dad showed his love through his automotive knowledge. He loved you and you pass it on to your daughter. Wonderful post, once again.

  5. This made me chuckle. One time when I was in college my dad expressed incredulity that I didn’t know how to short wire a car (had I lost the keys perhaps? Can’t remember). They didn’t exactly teach this in school! Great post, Ginger.

  6. So great. Dads can be very matter-of-fact in the things they teach us. As you say, we don’t always get it the first time, but we do eventually. I try to remember that with my own kids too.

  7. Ginger – this made me smile in remembrance of the time, with my first car, that it started running funny and my Dad asked me about the oil. “What?” I thought (and probably said) they need oil?”
    I was pretty clueless about things like that and he must have shook his head too.

    Love the light turning off legacy and putting your shoes away – he sounds like he would have gotten on famously with my father.

    Such a nice post.

  8. I love the drawings…you and your red hair! I think having the battery in the trunk is so funny. What a great memory. I’ve always been terrible at car stuff. I even wait until the last possible minute to get gas most of the time. I am lucky my husband tends to worry about that stuff now, but when I do have questions about tools and building things and cars I certainly miss my dads advice and knowledge.

  9. I love how you can relate to your own child now…..and recall the wonderful moments with your Dad….even though they may have not seemed important back then. Your Dad taught you well; he sounds like a practical guy with unconditional love! Can’t get any better than that!
    Joan Gramcracker Crumbs

  10. I think my dad’s hair started to go gray when he tried to teach me how to drive. I wonder if he sold the car with the standard transmission just so he wouldn’t have to suffer anymore! Lovely memories of your dad…

  11. I smiled all the way through your post. It sounds like your un-wonderful moments have turned into some really wonderful memories of you and your dad.

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