With Father’s Day, right around the corner, I recall all of the lessons my daddy taught me along the way in life. My dad is a wonderful man and I am so incredibly lucky that he is my father. I must give a lot of credit to him for me being the woman (and human being) I am today and how I continue to evolve. As a single woman I have learned how to buy a car without getting ripped off, how to change the oil or tire and how to navigate the world around me fairly successfully. But without the training wheels, and then the gears, would I be as successful? I don’t think so.
Training Wheels – Stay on the bike and don’t get too many scrapes.
I was a full-out tomboy when I was a little girl (and that tomboy is alive and well under the first scrubbed layer of my feminine- adult -woman -self). I was happiest outdoors, running, playing, climbing and being generally mischievous. I already had gotten “tangled” up in doors and corners, which required a series of trips to the emergency room, and stitches. I guess getting me on a bicycle seemed like a better alternative to channel all of my energy.
I remember, very clearly, my dad taking me to the local Catholic School yard, to teach me how to ride a bicycle. We lived in the Bronx then and finding a safe space to teach a very energetic child how to ride safely was a big challenge, according to my father. But he managed and I managed to stay on the bike and not get too many scrapes (until later on my teenage bike trip to Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod – but that’s a story for another time. I digress.)
1st gear – Keep active and fit. Enjoy balance.
Sports – the sheer love of it. My father (and mother) believed, and still does, in an active lifestyle. Exercise. Health. Fun. Family. Mental well being. All were threaded together. Out of his three daughters, I was the first to really embrace the love of activity and sports, but we all participated. We rode bikes together on weekends, ran the track, played tennis, went to sports events and played in the back yard. To this day I exercise because I love to, not because I necessarily have to. Just a few years ago my dad and I rode on LBI (Long Beach Island) together and it will forever remain one of my fondest memories.
My dad warned me about them. Those reckless, dangerous boys. But did I listen? Well, yes and no. I think I was more reckless than any boy I came across because my dad taught me not to take any crap. I broke a few hearts, I am sure. Sorry, boys. But then came the men…….and, well, I made a few impulsive decisions and paid the price for not heeding my father’s warning. You see, he warned me that there are bad men out there, but it was difficult to believe, given the man in my life – him. He said that “real” men have a gentle side, love and respect the women in their lives, communicate in a healthy way and are trustworthy. My dad would take the time to usher a spider, or bee, out of the house, rather than kill the little creature. So I learned not all men are “good” the hard way. I also discovered some boys never become men. I got a lot of scrapes during this time, but I stayed on the bike, kept pedaling and changed the path I was on. Now the view is much lovlier.
When I was sixteen my family took a “National Lampoon” style vacation cross country, mostly by car. There are so many stories which stream from this trip, but for now I’ll focus on Colorado. You know how certain places resonate so profoundly with you, the very air and ground feel a natural part of your soul? Well, the Boulder area did that for me. We stayed at a wonderful place, outside of Boulder, in Estes Park. We went had cabins, went tubing and horseback riding on wooded trails in the mountains. I just adored this place. One day my dad asked me to take a drive with him. We had rented a car, with stick shift. He knew I was just ACHING to learn how to drive, but little did I know what he had in mind. We drove around for a while and found ourselves on a dirt road.
Just when you think it’s time to coast on the highway, in 5th gear, you come across construction, a bump or a detour. Such is driving and such is life. But oh, the lessons to be learned. Now you must know my dad is a terrible back seat driver, hates traffic with a passion and although he grew up in New York City, avoids it like the plague now. But he taught me good defensive driving skills. “Always be aware of who is around you on the road. Check your mirrors. Don’t get drowsy. If possible, know an alternative route, if the situation arises and you need one.”
When riding a bicycle, or driving, you can go in reverse, but there is no such thing in life. Some try to live in the past, or in their memories, but all we have is the here and now. We press onward whether we like it or not. We can move quietly, boldly, or fight our way through, but forward we go. I am learning not to have regrets, for my life is mine . My lessons to be learned are mine. Daddy taught me it’s okay to be a tad bit selfish at this stage of the road, without stripping away the giving nature I have. The training wheels’ balance, the security he gave me, is still needed as my journey is still unfolding.