Motorcycles, Peanut Butter, and Laughter

This Sunday is Father’s Day. I always am a bit nostalgic around Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. In some ways it is just another day that passes, but it also always reminds me of all that I miss about my mom and dad. My father and I did not always have the best relationship. In what would be his final years, he struggled a lot and I often felt like the parent in the relationship. There are, however, some good things I do remember about him.

He liked motorcycles, dogs, and peanut butter. He also liked to play.

We played board games together as a family quite often. I think what I loved about playing games most was that I had his undivided attention. Maybe that is a clue into why I tried so hard to learn the rules to the adult games (my brother and sister were older) so I could play any game in our closet and thus not ever be left out. I also remember when I would find him relaxing in his recliner in the family room. He was usually reading National Geographic, or a book or magazine about cars. Growing up his father at one point had a used car lot, and after being exposed to different kinds of cars, he fell in love. When I was in elementary school, I would come bug him, and he would pull out circle word searches, or other word mind games to play together. I would lean over his shoulder while he sat in the recliner to help with finding words. I loved having that 1:1 time with him.

While we did not go on family vacations (because we could not afford it) we did often go camping. My dad was involved in Boy Scouts because of my brother, and we many times went on family campouts with other Boy Scout families. Even though my sister and I were often the only girls, we always had fun and learned a lot. I miss those days. My dad also liked to go on motorcycle rides. Somehow my sister got to go more often. Maybe it was because she was older, or maybe because she was more relaxed on the bike. (I often would forget which way you were supposed to lean and I think that would sometimes freak him out). He loved being out on his bike.

What I miss most about my dad was when he laughed. If he thought something was funny enough, his entire body would shake and his eyes would start to water. Once he started laughing like this, he usually could not stop. I loved seeing his entire body experience the joy of what he found funny. The last movie I saw with him was the Cameron Diaz movie, “There’s Something about Mary.” I had been visiting him over Christmas and we watched it the night before I headed back to college. I remember how hard he was laughing and thus how often the tears were coming out. He died a few weeks later. I never knew that would be the last time I would see him.

Thank you, dad, for the motorcycle rides, and the reminder that I need to play more. It is not always easy, but it is important. We all need to laugh so hard we cry.

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