The Last Goodbye….

(Continuation of the post: The Self-Disciplined Side of My Father)

My dad worked hard and got dirty. There was grease and gunk on him most days, but he took at least one shower a day, sometimes two. This took little time out of his schedule, since he was a 5 minute shower taker. I was always very impressed with his ability to do this, and I thought when I was younger that this is just how men bathed; quickly and efficiently. I figured it was because they have less maintaining to tend to in the shower. Now I realize this was another trait that my father possessed, which I have not found many other people share. He had limited time but prided himself on appearances, and to him; showering was business to be done efficiently and should only take enough time as it takes to get clean and get out. The only thing he used to bath with is a bar of Castile soap, head to toe. He stayed clean shaven all through my childhood. I still love the scent of Old Spice, the glass bottle with a little silver top that allows just a few drops of aftershave to come out. I loved to watch my father shave with his mug and brush. He would use hot water and lather up the shaving soap and then spread it evenly on his face. As a girl, it seemed so invigorating. The nostalgia of the smells and warmth of it all still calms me. Reflection is all I have now. Moments from time passed, an admirable life abruptly ended, more than twenty years ago now; when I lost my father, suddenly, without warning.

The memories are what I live with and the words are all I have to keep my father alive for myself and those I wish could have met him. He died suddenly in a car accident when I was fifteen years old. Even though he was like many fathers and rarely wore his seat belt, he was wearing it that day. Unfortunately, nothing could have saved him other than calmer weather and not being in the place he was when he was hit head on, in a thunderstorm, by a tanker truck. This traumatic event still affects me to this day; maybe more than it did the day it happened.

I had gone camping with friends and we left right away in the morning because we were aware a storm was coming. As we drove from the campsite we could see the storm behind us.  Black skies creeping up, trailing us, swirling behind, and picking up speed.  We drove quickly, as if we were racing it to the finish line. When I arrived home, my friend fell asleep in my room, and I went to take a shower.

My mother, that same morning, had been trying to contact my dad on the car phone, in the white box delivery truck he was driving back from Minnesota in that morning. Finally, after years of trying to start his own business, he had established a trucking business, J & M’s Delivery Service. He had a few accounts with local businesses, especially Plastecs, for whom he picked up loads of their products and delivered them state to state. He had a delivery to make, directly following his obligation of being a pallbearer at his Great-Aunt Blanche’s funeral that Friday afternoon.  He drove forty-five minutes south from our house to the funeral, and then continued on to Minnesota to his final destination before returning home.

I saw him briefly before he left that afternoon. He was dressed in a black suit for the funeral. I told him how handsome he looked and gave him a big hug and kiss goodbye. We were in good standing and parted in the best imaginable way, not knowing in less than 48 hours my mother, brother, and I would get a call that confirmed; My dad had given me my last hug and kiss and said his last goodbye.


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