There are moments in life, that just trigger memories. Yesterday, I had one of those. I grew up estranged from my father most of my life, so for me to have any kind of concept of my dad to be a “coochie coo” kind of parent, was really hard to imagine. And in times when I did see him, I definitely would not have described him that way.
Which is why, when we adopted our daughters, one of the first things I told my father, who constantly felt guilt for the lack of being involved in my life, “we can’t change what happened, but you have two beautiful granddaughters and they love you. If you feel you have something to make up, here is your chance.” And my dad adored his granddaughters. They especially knew that going to “pappy’s” house, meant raiding the huge Oreo Cookie cookie jar.
But from what I knew of my father, he was fairly gruff. Driving truck most of his life, he was a “motor head” and quite talented with handy repairs. Definitely not “coochie coo.”
But then a few years ago, he dropped a bomb on me. Having recently retired due to both age and health issues, he decided that he needed something to fill his time in. He told me, “I am going to drive school buses.”
I was like, “you know dad, they have kids on them?” He laughed. I began to warn him of how rough teenagers could be when he cut me off that he would be driving elementary school kids. And again, I was like, “really?” as if I was concerned how the kids would react to someone the way I used to think about my dad, and stress the way I “used” to think of my dad. The fact is, my daughters did change the way he was around children.
My father told me lots of stories of children he had seen somewhere, telling me of behaviors both good and bad, and then turning the conversations to how I was raising our daughters, complimentary. But one of the most touching stories was that of Chinese twins on his bus, that he said reminded him so much of his granddaughters, not just in a physical resemblance but also in manners.
When my father was diagnosed with lung cancer, eventually he had to retire for good. And he was so touched by all of the families on his route who gave all kinds of tokens of support. But is was the hugs from all the children as they said goodbye to their favorite bus driver, that meant the most to him.
It is often said, that depending on the situation of someone’s passing, it is better to remember them a certain way. And this is definitely one of those memories I will always cherish of my father.
Yesterday, I saw a school bus with a driver that resembled my father. Being behind the bus, I saw the red flashing lights as the students poured off the bus, turning to wave goodbye to their driver.
I miss you dad.