A few weeks ago I wrote a rather sad little post about the relationship I'd had with my father. Everything in it was true. There is no changing history, and no back-tracking. Everyone, however, is multi-faceted, including my father, and so today, in honor of Fathers Day, I thought I'd write about the good things that existed between us.
Dad and I used to go on lots of bicycle rides together. It seemed to be something he enjoyed. It appeared to relax him. I, too, enjoyed bike riding. We would traverse Champaign together, going here and there, this part of town to that part of town, often in silence, but an amiable silence. One of our oft-traveled sections was through Kauffman Lake in west Champaign. On the north side of Kauffman is a bike trail that takes you under an interstate, and over to the Parkland College area. For some reason, I always loved that area.
I remember seeing Pee-Wee's Big Adventure at the theater with my parents, and my dad absolutely loved it. Perhaps it had something to do with the plot? Pee Wee's precious bicycle is stolen, and the film is about his quest to get it back. There's a scene where Pee Wee earns the respect of a rough motorcycle club. They then give him a motorcycle, which he promptly rides for a few feet, then crashes. I remember my dad's raspy laugh echoing throughout the theater when that happened. I also remember really liking Pee Wee's bike, and wanting one like it. My dad got me one.
Then there were all the movies and TV shows that I remember watching with my dad. They used to show a lot of the James Bond movies on TV back in the day (I think it was on ABC), and I enjoyed watching those with him. It was my first time seeing them. When we got our first VCR (that's a Video Cassette Recorder for you kids out there, look it up), my parents rented a lot of Alfred Hitchcock films. Those were fun to watch, and I liked that my dad and I both liked them. And then there were all the mystery TV shows that dad and I both enjoyed: Columbo, Murder She Wrote, Ellery Queen.... the list goes on.
My dad had a somewhat sadistic streak in him. This could manifest itself mildly on occasion, as in the time that our neighbor from across the street, Mr. Shirley, got his truck stuck on the ice in his driveway. My maternal grandmother was visiting for the weekend, and her and I, my dad and my mom were all sitting in the living room when we heard the sound of truck wheels spinning uselessly on the ice. We looked out the front window, and I remember dad just sitting there laughing and laughing at the travails of Mr. Shirley. This went on for several minutes. The poor old neighbor would try moving the truck on the (inclined) driveway, to no avail. He'd then get out and kick the truck. We could tell he was cursing at the situation. My dad laughed and laughed and laughed. He even fell out of his chair at one point.
Oh, and there was the time that I fell down on the sidewalk outside our house. I forget what I was doing, but I fell, and then did that thing that kids do, when they sit in stony silence for a few moments before unleashing an avalanche of screams and tears. Dad ran out of the front door, and scooped me up in his arms and rushed me inside so my mom could tend to my wounds. I don't know if you've ever been held in your father's arms, but it evokes a feeling of total safety and comfort.
So, yes, Lewis Ivy Gladney and I had some good times. He wasn't a perfect man, but he probably did the best he knew how. Sometimes, that's not always what I wanted, or needed, but sometimes it was. The aforementioned occasions reflect the latter. I do miss him on days like today. He was gone too soon.
(from 3:06 to 4:14)