A Father’s Night on Hiram Hill

June 17, 2012 at 7:32 AM (Uncategorized) (, , )

See he was driving me back to college probably late in the fall semester of my freshman or sophomore year…He was sober, or near enough when that trip started and once the car died, absolutely stone sober.

I don’t remember the reason the car died.  Out of gas, transmission, overheating (which the dog ugly cream-colored used 1979 Cutlass with the black vinyl hood did often, since it’s heater was perpetually on.  Even in July.)

I think it might have been out of gas, something that was technically his responsibility to monitor.  Maybe that’s one of the reasons he worked so hard to get me where I needed to go.

This was way, way, way before cell phones.

Hiram College (at the time) was a tiny college at the southern end of Northeast Ohio, one block big…it had a post office, a bank, a pizza joint and one closed gas station.  And on a Sunday night while it was snowing, there would have been nothing open anyway.   It didn’t need to be “accessible” for me (on crutches at the time)…it was small enough.

We were stuck halfway up Hiram Hill.  Behind the post office.

It would have been better if we’d  been stuck at the base of that hill near the sports complex…because although that would have been a longer road to hoe, there were stairs set in the last half of that hill.

Back behind the post office, there was nuffin.’ Zip.  Zilch.

It was a small hill, and would have been a moderately annoying scramble for a forty year old able bodied man.   No phones nearby.  Nobody on this remote road.

It was determined I would climb that hill with him. The cerebral palsy couldn’t matter, and I was too big to carry.  I did have on these big nasty men’s work boots, the Hummers of footwear, my winter boots of choice.  Like the blizzard I’ve spoken about before, we held hands and crawled up that hill together.

It was hideous hard.  It seemed to take approximately 2000 years to get up that hill.  All I remember was his yelling.

My perception was, I couldn’t do it.  I was going to fall, I was going to get hurt I was going to freeze out there….and there was so much god dammed ice, my true nemesis.  If my feet couldn’t get a purchase, my arms wouldn’t be able to do the job of yanking me another few feet.  But his yelling was annoying and encouraging and resolute all at once and I got up that hill…  I believe my crutches were still in the car, so the next phase was a careful walk across that icy campus, both hands holding tightly on to my Dad’s hands, once he’d called my Mom…

When I got to my dormitory, all I remember wanting is to get into my room with that rackety steam heat and warm up. I wanted my Dad to come in as well, and he did, to warm up and repeatedly express his regret.

I could tell there would be unpleasant negotiations and repercussions between my divorced parents once Mom got there forty five minutes later…to retrieve my stuf f and figure out how to get the car towed.

But he did what had to be done…a night in that car would have been worse than that scramble…a flash of caretaking in the middle of his alcohol driven irresponsibility…

So even if your Dad isn’t perfect, or is no longer with you, as my father is not.

Dust off some of the times he did right by you…dust them off and look at them on this father’s day, and they’ll illustrate what being a Dad is about.

Celebrate Dad.

 

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6 Comments

  1. Ruth said,

    What a moving story and spiritual message on this Father’s Day. Posting it over at my blog.

    • imfunny2 said,

      🙂 Thanks Ruth. On good days, the only difference in remembering wonderfully consistent fathers, and really flawed dads, is that you may have fewer anecdotes to choose from on good fatherhood, but both kinds of dads do rise to the occasion

  2. bridgett said,

    Gah, you’re choking me up. My favorite memory of your dad is on your wedding day, all dry and debonair in his humor: “Glad you could join us, Susan.” I got a glimpse of the man he could have been and sometimes could still be for short periods…

    • imfunny2 said,

      Yeah, bri, the best thing he ever said in the eighties. That line right there.

  3. Cole said,

    I will and do miss your Dad, my Uncle Neil. In his heart there was goodness waiting to ripen and and grow. I could tell even as a child. I call it the force but I can feel when there is good inside of people and I always felt this with you Dad. I too, find it hard to forgive, but when I do, the good memories start to flow out. I miss you Uncle Neil and I know you have found peace which was all so evasive to you on earth. Happy Father’s Day. Cole

    • imfunny2 said,

      Cole thanks…when he was rightside up he was a real trip, wasn’t he 🙂

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