"My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me."
~ Jim Valvano
Fathers' Day- That lovely day, on a bright summer afternoon, to honor the amazing man who no matter how old you get still occasionally fills your car with gas, brings you a Starbucks, and reminds you about silly things like slipping on the ice.
A little patio picnic hardly seems enough to thank the man who has been my friend/support system/savings and loan department for the last 30 years. But he, like myself, appreciates a good meal, so a hearty meal I whipped up.
When I think back on times with my father, so many of them involve a gut-busting laugh or some kind of cynical behavior. One of my earliest (and most favorite) memories involves a math test during first grade.
Happy sigh, sly grin.
Do you remember those lovely timed (4 minute) tests that had 10 rows of 10 addition problems?
I do. I always will.
Truthfully, the entire addition concept didn't prove too difficult for me. In fact, I don't think I ever left a single test unfinished. However, no matter how many times we took those blasted tests, I missed the same problem-- over and over and over again. And, as it goes, the problem usually popped up three or four times over the course of the 100 problems. Therefore, out of 100 problems, I'd consistently score a 97 or 96.
Well, that just didn't cut it with me. My seven-year-old, pig-tailed self would become downright distraught over my erroneous ways and I would continually make my parents practice flashcards with me until I convinced myself that I could earn a perfect score.
You see where this is going, right? (I can tell you are on the edge of your seat.)
Miss Shockey would pass out the timed tests. I'd proudly take out my sharpened pencil and adjust my arm so that my nosy seat partner couldn't copy my correct answers and I'd sit somewhat patiently, waiting for her instructions. I'd sit there, with my test upside down, fingers gripping the corner, anticipating the very second when she said, "You may begin. You have 4 minutes."
With lightening speed I'd flip that test over. Rush, rush, rush I'd go, neatly answering problem after problem.
Then, when all 100 problems were finished I flipped my test over (that nosy seat partner, again) and wait for her to announce, "Time's up!"
Those school days seemed like forever as I waited for the return of my test. Just when I thought I might die- seriously- Miss Shockey would pass out our take-home folders and review the day's learning and activities. "Blah, blah, blah," I remember thinking. "Just give me that math test, already."
It never failed. 96/100.
That night, as we ate dinner, my dad looked over my test and congratulated me on a wonderful job. And then he said the one sentence that I will never, ever forget. "Cathy, 4+5=9, damn it!"
He was joking, of course, but for some reason I just thought that was the funniest thing ever. I laughed and laughed and the more I laughed, the more he said it.
I never, ever missed that problem again. And to this day, every time I see the combination of 4 and 5, his voice plays in my mind.
Thanks, Dad. Thank you for everything. I'm so lucky to have you.