Tuesday, July 17, 2007

No Replacement

Three days after I got my driver's license, at the ripe old age of sixteen, I was in a minor fender bender. It was arguably my fault although I still deny that. Luckily, no one was hurt, but the front end of my parents' car was a bit mushed in. My dad was out of town that week, and so my mother helped me to sort out the immediate aftermath. But after dinner she gently told me that I needed to call my father and tell him what happened.

Now, my dad was known for having a bit of a short fuse, as well as a bark that was worse than his bite. And I never liked to disappoint him or make him angry. So I may have whined and sobbed a bit while my mother dialed the phone. Nevertheless, she handed it over to me and I choked out the story of what had happened, tears streaming down my face.

My father listened and then there was a silence while I braced myself for his response. And then he spoke to me calmly, without anger or annoyance. I don't remember the exact words that he said to me, but it basically boiled down to this: "Cars can always be repaired or replaced, but people can't. The important thing is that you are all right."

This was a man who had his priorities straight.

My father passed away early this morning. Unlike my banged up car, he can never be repaired or replaced. But the essence of those words that he spoke to me over twenty years ago will live on in the values that I pass along to my children. There was never a day that I doubted my father's love for me; there was never a time that I was not secure in the knowledge that he was there for me. This is the kind of wealth that can't be measured, and I am so lucky that he passed that on to me.