Today is my Dad's birthday.
He would have turned 74 years old today if he were still alive.
Every year on or near his birthday, I've paused to reflect on June 28th and my Dad. I just took a quick stroll down memory lane and read: This Moose Be My Real Reason (June 2010); Summer + BBQ = Dad Celebration (June 2009); Just One More Beer With Dad (June 2008); Da Count - Dad (June 2007); Memories of Dad (June 2006) & Daddy Hugs (June 2006); I Think I Caught His Spirit (June 2005)
This year, I'm thinking about Dad and his truck.
After he died, I took his truck. I didn't need a vehicle, because I had already been leasing one - it actually cost a bit of money to break the lease early - but having my Dad's truck meant a lot to me. From the time I was little, going for a ride in the truck with my Dad was a really fun experience, right up there with going to an amusement park. Just Dad and I together, heading out to run an errand, going to visit my Uncle Leslie or barrelling down a dirt road on our way to a fishing or hunting spot, enjoying one another's company, yelling "wheee" at the top of our lungs as the truck raced down a steep hill on the winding Old Cartier Road near Windy Lake.
When I got older, I learned to drive standard in Dad's truck. And, though I was approaching adulthood, there was still this magical thrill of getting in the truck with my old man and going somewhere -- anywhere. That thrill never left me. Even today, if I had a choice between taking a magical journey on The Polar Express or a ride with Dad in his truck, I think you'd know which one I'd take, hands down
So, when he died, I kept his truck. And since 2003 I've not only been able to re-live some of those special memories of driving around with Dad in his truck, but I've been able to create special new ones with my son Alexander. Going for a ride with Dad in the truck is likely as fun for Alexander as it has been for me. When he was smaller, sitting in the car seat in the truck allowed him a vantage point of the road that he wasn't able to get in the back seat of the CRV. And he was always at the healm of the controls for the garage door opener.
Yes, the father and son tradition continued.
Until last week -- when I received the devastating news that the odd pulling and occasional snap, crackle popping I heard while turning was due to the control on the front of the passenger side wheel being completely rotted out. Taking the vehicle anywhere on the road could result in a nasty accident with complete loss of steering control.
Simply, the cost to fix this would likely come to double what the vehicle itself was worth. Well, at least in dollars.
The real worth of the vehicle can't be measured in dollars. The real worth is measured in treasured memories.
During the first winter that I had the truck, not all that long after I lost my Dad, I'd been driving by myself on the way to work. It had been some sort of frustrating or anxiety-filled day - can't remember why, just that I was feeling out of sorts.
Then, a sudden smell hit me. And, though it seems weird, it was the smell of my Dad's sweat - likely sweat that had been baked into the very seats - not sure where or how. But there it was all the same - the distinct sensation of my Dad's smell filled the cab of the truck. Scent memory is a very powerful thing.
So for a few moments, everything was okay. Dad was with me again; the world was alright.
Yes, it seems strange that I would find comfort in such a basic (and seemingly gross) sensation. But that morning, smelling the remnants of my Dad's perspiration comforted me in such a gentle and wonderful way. I can think of very few scents that spark a special feeling in me -- fresh baked bread, popcorn, bacon, coffee. And the smell of my Dad. Sadly, I can easily re-create each of those other scents. My Dad's however, I cannot. So thoughts of that one special morning driving alone in my Dad's truck and not feeling at all alone due to that scent, linger with me.
And, as I begin to say goodbye to Dad's truck, it's like another chapter of my life that's closing. It's that special part of my Dad, and of special memories that I was able to hang onto for another 8 years.
But really, it's just a truck.
It shouldn't hurt this much.