With Father's Day approaching, I've been thinking of my dad, who died in 2000. This is for him:
There was only one car, so my father did all the errands on Saturday morning, taking me along.
I saw him differently away from our all-female household: tall, handsome, diffident with strangers.
He loved the freedom of driving, even tethered to a list, and whistled robustly -- “Minnie the Mermaid”, “Who Killed Cock Robin?”, “The Old Rugged Cross.”
At the gas station, he treated the attendant with grave courtesy, addressing him by the name embroidered above his breast pocket.
The bank teller was a former student, and he called her by Mrs. and her surname, asking after her mother and dad.
Raised an Okie, he was unaware that when he greeted people he inclined slightly forward, one-quarter of a European bow.
If we had 13 items, we couldn’t go in the “less than 12” lane at the store (although he pointed out sotto voce it should be “fewer than”).
On the home stretch, he pulled over to let me sit close beside him. I could use the turn signals, the air vents, the horn if I wasn’t too rowdy. “
Like this, Pal,” he would say, anchoring the wheel with his thumb as I steered, our copper Chevy Impala a sweet chariot carrying us home.