Tough times ahead.
My very first post was in July of 2007. You wanna know why I started writing it? I mean really know why? Well, it was at my mother-in-laws funeral, and you know how people come up to you after a funeral and they tell you what that person meant to them? Well, there was this woman there, and I don’t for the life of me remember who it was, but she told me how she always read Marg’s Column, ‘Egbert and I’. It was a column about her life with her husband. She would write about her kids; she would just call them by their age. She would write about some of the trouble David would get into, she’d write about some of Lynn’s accomplishments, and some of the triumphs and turbulances life brings. Anyway, the lady told me how she looked forward to this column, and how she could relate as she had kids of her own, and how she always felt there was someone else going through the same craziness.
“And what a gift it is that you all have those columns to look back on,” she said to me.
A few months later, I started this blog. Yes, so people could relate, but also so my boys could look back on my life and their lives should they ever need to. I thought they might read about that summer in 2010 and that was the summer they learned how to swing a club, or that year that they played novice hockey and how much fun it was, or the recipe for the meatloaf they always loved. And maybe, they’d read this post and remember the summer that their grampy got sick.
I don’t write much about my father. In fact writing this one sentence has taken longer than my last 3 posts put together. He’s a good man. A hard worker. Helpful to everyone. Kind eyes. Dirty hands. The thoughts of living in a world without my father hurts my heart, yet, I can’t say that to him. Why? who knows. We’re just not built like that.
I have very few childhood memories, but one I do have was when my father took me on the road with him while he drove a long haul truck for Purina based out of Canning. He took me because I talked incessantly and would keep him awake, or so the story goes. My sister was in school and I had not yet started, and perhaps he was giving my mother a break. Dad would tell me that I would tell every story-tale I knew, and when I ran out I’d make up my own. He said with me on the road with him, he never needed so much as a cup of coffee to stay awake.
The passenger seat was big enough to be my bed, and he would sleep in the cab. We would drive to his destination and in-between we would stop at truck stops. Places like the Turkey Burger and Mel’s Diner. I met lots of other truckers, and to this day, I hold a soft spot for them; at truck stops, while passing them. They’d humor me as I’d lift one end of the bag of feed and they’d lift the other. There is no question that I made their job all the more difficult.
We talked a lot on these trips. And we sang.
And I thought my dad was the center of the universe.
I remember my dad’s favorite song at the time was ‘The Gambler’, by Kenny Rogers. My dad picked up many-a-hitchhiker in his day, and I can imagine he could relate to the lyrics. He’d sing, “On a warm summers evening, on a train bound for nowhere, I met up with a gambler, we were both too tired to sleep”. He knew every word, still does I’m sure. Then he’d continue, “He said, “Son I’ve made a life, out of reading peoples faces, and knowing what the cards were by the way they held their eyes. And if you don’t mind me sayin, I can see you’re out of aces, for a taste of your whisky, I’ll give you some advice”.
I think back to my time in that truck with my dad and that may have been the best life experience I’ve ever received, and I was 4.
“You gotta know when to hold em’, know when to fold em’, know when to walk away, know when to run, you never count your money, when you’re sitten’ at the table, they’ll be time enough for countin’, when the dealin’s done.”
My father was diagnosed with cancer and he likely won’t be with us much longer. He’s chosen to live the rest of his life not fighting the disease, but not surrendering to it either. Dad refuses to allow cancer to take his last few months.
There’ll be tough times ahead for my family. But I remember those trips on the road in that big-rig truck and I remember what dad taught us about life… and I can’t help but think we’re all going to be ok.