Last Lesson

When I was about five years old, my Dad would take me to Mountainview Park. For a little kid, that playground was like Disneyland. It had a sliding board enclosed in a tube, an above-ground tunnel and swings that made you feel you could kick a cloud. Playground equipment back then was constructed out of metal. It would have the occasional jagged edge or bolt that wanted to pop out when you least expected it, but I didn’t care. My Dad would stand close by, letting me run wild but keeping a close watch to make sure I didn’t hurt myself.

When I was 16, my Dad took me to Mountainview Park again, this time to teach me how to drive. He set up the horses to act as the front and rear bumpers of cars and showed me how to parallel park. I remember his patience despite the damage I did to his workshop equipment.

My Dad taught me a thousand and one lessons great and small. Paying me a nickle for each frog I caught in the yard (and taking them to the nearby woods to release them) taught me the value of money and to care for all God’s creatures. I remember when he’d drive past a boarded up house he would ask me how I’d feel if I “lived in a place like that,” and realized that he was teaching me to appreciate what I had in life. (When he was a kid growing up in the Depression, his family had very little.) He showed me how to spackle a hole in the wall, how to take care of a puppy and how to hit a baseball.

But it didn’t occur to me until I was packing Wednesday night to visit my Dad for the last time what those lessons all meant. He wasn’t just teaching me how to have fun while being safe or how to drive. All those little lessons added up to something far more important. He was teaching me how to be a good husband and a good Dad.

I hope I can be as good a Dad to Penelope as he was to me.

Thanks for everything Dad. I love you and will never forget all you taught me. Rest in peace.

{Thursday morning as I was leaving my house to drive to North Carolina, my sister called to tell me my Dad had passed away in his sleep earlier that morning. The Parkinson’s Disease and other ailments he fought so bravely for so long, finally beat him. He was 84.}


3 thoughts on “Last Lesson

  1. Dear David-
    My sense is that your dad is beaming up in heaven…
    I have not seen you for a long time, but as I watched you and listened to you at the wake I have no doubt that all that your dad has taught you is very evident in your life. I have no doubt that Penelope is blessed to have you as her dad and Bernadette as her mom. Enjoy the adventure!
    God bless!

  2. I just tuned into your blog after a long time away, and oh man, I am so sorry about your Dad. Greg lost his mom 2 years ago this month, and he is just now getting over the hole it left in his heart.

    I enjoy reading your posts so much! You are a supremely funny and poignant writer.

    Will gives a big shout out to Penelope!

    • You’re both very kind — thanks! Bern, what you wrote is very touching and means a lot to me. Beth: Please give Will a big hug from Bernadette, Penelope and I! We hope he’s doing well, and we’d love to hear more about how he’s doing when you have the time. Please give Greg our best too!

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