hey dad,…WATCH THIS…

by johnedoe

          Long ago, when the rest of the world was just going to sleep,…I would then be taking off from the safety of my home to ride my bicycle. Especially on the warm summertime time evenings in South Central Oklahoma…this was my time. There was an old K-mart store about two miles from my house. It closed it’s doors at nine p.m., so shortly after that, the parking lot was all mine. This is where I developed and practiced my freestyle BMX riding skills. (Actually, back then, freestyle had no labels, as it had not yet been officially developed as a sport, so, it was just me riding my bike,…)         

The emptiness of the parking lot, and smooth concrete construction allowed me to ride relatively unobstructed. I much preferred crashing on cement as opposed to asphalt. Skin slides easier on cement, leaving less meat and blood and skin stuck to the ground, which means, more blood and meat and skin still attached to me, which I prefer.         

 It’s lighting allowed me to see somewhat clearly where I was riding, making my riding that much safer. Part of the parking lot was built on a nice hill, which allowed me to pick up decent speed for some of my tricks, which comes in very handy. Even then, only about half of the parking lot lights were left on for security reasons. But,…as I said, I still had good visibility. Altogether, the parking lot equaled roughly six football field sized areas, to use as much of as I chose to use,…freely. It was very nice.           

Now, one evening, as I rode,…a tiny glimmer of light reflected up from the ground, somehow catching my eye. I had no idea why, as it was too small to be a threat to the tires on my bicycle. Any other time, it would not even have phased me. However, on this night, I turned towards it. I stopped when I found it. Getting off my bike, I bent over, reached down,…and picked it up.  It was part of a watch band.

It was just a cheap, black rubber and plastic/rubber watch band. Actually, it was only the end with the buckle on it. The buckle still had the metal pin which fit into the size adjusting holes on the watch that it had came from. There was no watch attached to it. Just the one side of the band. Period.

Now, the reason for it’s separation from the watch itself, appeared to be quite obvious, as was evidenced by some very deep gouges where the small, metal, spring loaded pin, attached into the outer band attachment holes, which were on each side of the watch itself. These very distinctive gouges were on the visible, outer side of the watchband,…and, they would have continued on across the face of the watch itself. My guess, based on the evidence, was that it had simply been ran over by a car after having fallen to the ground. Or, very violently stomped into and across the ground by someone’s foot. The parking lot in which I found it was too smooth to have left the large gouges. How it arrived here was a mystery. For now.

Instead of dropping it back to the ground, I put it in my front right pocket. Out of sheer curiosity, I spent a short while looking around the parking lot for what was left of the actual watch itself. No luck. I continued to ride that evening. The mystery had faded entirely. Then I rode home, and went to bed.

The next day around lunch time, there was a knock on my front door. I did what people do, and answered the knock, or rather, I simply opened the door. There before me, who I hadn’t seen in some years, was my father. There really are certain moments that can take your breath away long enough to render one speechless. This was one of those moments for me.

My father had left our family when I was a very little boy, then, over the years, he would come back for short whiles at a time. When I was 13 or 14, he left, what was left, of our “home”, for good. Life goes on.

I, from a very early age began working as an artist. Being paid to do what came naturally to me was quite nice, I must admit.  In my sophomore year, I left high school in Arizona, and went back to Oklahoma. There, I began to paint wall murals. There is a reason I am telling you this, as you are about to see.  

After some rather awkward small talk with my father, he asked if I would like to go to lunch with him. I loved my father,…no matter where he was, or wasn’t. I said yes. There was a café in the town which I lived and did most of my artwork. My father loved it. So, this is where we had lunch. Turns out that he knew all of the waitresses and every time one of them would stop by the table to say hello, he would tell them, “this is my son”…and he would also say, “have you seen all of those paintings around town on the walls??? He does them.”  Their comments and compliments were quite nice, I must say,…but all that I heard was my dad, my dad, who I had often wondered if he loved me or not, telling everyone how proud he was of me. I said nothing. He reached into his pocket and drew out a very large envelope. It was full of photographs. He handed them to me. Upon opening them, I had found that my dad had driven to every possible place that he could find,…and taken pictures of all of my artwork. There was much artwork, too. And, this wasn’t the day and age of digital pictures either. This was the load the film, take the pictures, drop off, and pay to have the film developed time of life. He told me to keep the pictures that he handed me, as he had made doubles. So, I did. (I still have them to this day) There are many different ways to say I love you. The best times are when the words are shown. My dad showed me the answer to the questions which I had needed for so long. So much louder than words.            

You see,…before my dad left for the last time, he didn’t tell me goodbye,…he was just gone when I came home from school one day. But, the day before he left, and out of the blue,…as my dad didn’t say much to me,…he told me, “you keep drawing those pictures.” hH said nothing else. Looking back now, I understand why.

The reason that my dad was in town on this day, was that he had been building a Wal-Mart fifty miles north of where I lived. The first Wal-Mart ever in the area. So, he had this day off,…so he came to try to find me. My buddy, who owned one the places that I painted a mural on,…told him where I lived. So,…he knocked.              

In the time that it took for he and I to have lunch and talk, although we talked very little,…there were so many needed questions answered,…for the both of us, too. My father got the question answered that his son still loved him. And I got the question answered that my father loved me. My dad then drove me back to my house.              

When it was time for him to leave, I shook his hand, as I had forgotten how to let myself hug him. I believe that he felt the same. As he began to walk away, he stopped suddenly, turned, as he reached in his pocket, and he said, “oh, I found this in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart where I am working and thought you might be able to use it.”               

I knew that “whatever” it was, this was actually just my dad’s way of wanting to leave me some little something for me to remember him by. All in all, facts were, my dad was very sentimental about what others may consider to be just trivial things. So I just kind of stood semi-politely, as if humoring him…I was used to my dad doing these type of little odd things,…That said…              

From his pocket,…he pulled a cheap, black, rubber, and plastic digital watch. A watch that looked as if it had been ran over by a car, or stomped seriously into the ground, a very gravelly ground, as it had large gouges across it’s sides and face,…and,…it was also missing the buckle side of it’s black rubber watch band.              

I became somewhat numb, yet at the same time, more alive than I have ever been. I reached into my front right pocket and withdrew from it what I had found the night before, fifty miles away from where my father found the watch he now held in his weathered hand. I slowly took the watch from his hand, with my right hand, as my left hand mechanically, and perhaps shakily, inserted the piece which I had in my pocket, perfectly and precisely, into the side of the very watch from which it had came. I told my father that I had found the piece just last night as I did so.               

He and I quietly stared. I can not say that we stared in disbelief, as there was none. There could not be. The gouges from the band continued perfectly across the face of the watch. Also, the unique stripes on the bands themselves were a perfect match as well. There was no denying this as being truth. I think, rememebering back as I am now, that there was a part of me that actually tried to deny it. If, for nothing else other than my sanity’s sake.               

As he turned to leave, there was much silence between us. This silence was actually a time of silent contemplation and reflection. It remained until he got in his truck to drive away. I told him that I would see him soon. He climbed slowly into his truck, started the engine, and then he left. I walked back in my house, watch in hand,…sat down at my dining room table,…and cried like a baby.

I have no idea when I saw him next. Neither of us ever forgot that day,…hough neither of us ever spoke of it again…….now, long since his death,…we will never speak of it again…I wore that watch for many years, until it disappeared from my life forever,…as did my father,…………….

it’s always time to take the chance to let your father show you that he loves you,…just don’t place any expectations on him as he tries to,…and you may see miracles that you can never explain,……

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