If I remember anything about my dad, it was the deafening noise and
the bouncing rides on his machinery. I was small, so I would ride
beside him – usually in a pickup truck or on the wheel hub of a
tractor, but I also rolled with him on other stuff – combines,
bulldozers, water trucks, grain trucks, 18-wheelers – and it was
usually a blast.
He only knew one speed, wide open, and quite naturally, the noise
blanketed everything. Always so much power, always so much noise –
nothing much was ever said, nor could it be – for the noise silenced
any real conversation.
But from time to time, he would look over at me and smile. I always
thought it was a happy smile – that of a boy with his favorite toy. I
never knew exactly what the smiles meant, but I saw them often, and I
knew they were good.
Unfortunately, the real conversations never took place.
I suffered for the loss of him. His untimely death left painful,
unanswered questions. At times my anger made me wonder if, in all his
selfishness, he ever had loved me at all.
But when my anger finally subsided, my fondest memories returned –
those bumpy rides, and especially those smiles. But for years, I never
knew what they really meant.
It took you to teach me that.
One day we were in the car, perhaps I had just picked you up from your
mother’s and we were on the way to my house. Maybe we were on the way
to the amusement park. I am not really sure, but was an air of
happiness and anticipation.
I looked from the road, and there you sat, your little legs poking
straight and your little shoes, the Barney ones I think, hung off the
front of the seat. You smiled up at me, and I smiled back.
My dear, sweet child, such a joy and so entirely precious to me.
I realized then, that I smiled at you a lot like that. And for the
first time, I understood how my dad must have felt. Thank you for that
You have to understand, a man often finds it hard to tell his child
how much he loves her. And some men are so tough, so beaten, so numb,
they don’t even understand what they feel, but they feel, and in their
way, they love and in the simplest ways they sometimes dare to reach
Now you are growing up, estranged from me as it were, and you have
disappeared into your own world. My hope is that you will return to me
one day. My hope for you is that you will not have to deal with the
with unanswered questions like the ones that for so long tormented