Father’s Day was a few days ago and it got me thinking about my Dad’s “Sunday Drives”. On occasion after church, my father would drive around and show us the old neighborhood’s where he grew up. He surprised us on one of these drives when he pointed out all of the eighteen different houses where he had lived. He explained that his Mom would take him from place to place during his childhood. They struggled to make ends meet, so each time a better option came up, she told him to pick up his few belongings and follow her to their new temporary home.
They lived in basements, an extra bedroom of someone’s home or in a specific section of a house. His Mother was always looking for extra living space and someone who was willing to take them in for a few months. My Grandmother did whatever it took to give my dad the best living conditions she could find and if she found a better option she jumped at the chance. My Dad told us they lived in four different houses on the same block in a four year period during grade school.
My Dad never had a dresser or bed until he was a teenager. He aligned his clothes in a box and he always had to be prepared for the next move. My Grandmother would cook or clean in exchange for rent in some cases or at other times she would pay a small amount to live in a section of someone’s home. This had to be difficult on both of them, but I never heard my Dad or my Grandmother complain about how hard they had it.
They were put in this difficult situation by my Grandfather. He left them when my dad was just three years old. He went AWOL for many years and it wasn’t until my Dad was an adult that they re-connected. When my dad’s father died a few years ago the relationship between them seemed good. I’m not sure how my dad coped with his childhood situation but he dealt with it.
I’m also not sure why he wanted to drive past his old temporary homes. The neighborhoods were not glamorous and many of the houses were dilapidated. As a kid I thought it was interesting to get a glimpse into my Dad’s difficult childhood.
As a Father myself I am gaining a better understanding of why my father took these drives after church. My Dad likes nostalgia but he had other reasons for wanting to show us where he grew up.
When Dad started taking these drives, we lived in an affluent suburb and had everything we needed in life. I think my dad wanted us to know that where and how we lived didn’t just happen by chance.
My Dad wanted us to appreciate what we had and that he was able to provide us with a warm, comfortable and spacious home.
My Dad wanted us to see that everybody was not as lucky as we were. He wanted us to see that everybody has struggles including him at one point in his life.
My Dad wanted to show us you can overcome what seem to be surmountable odds and make something of yourself if you do your best and work hard.
My Dad may have wanted to remind himself to stay grounded and to keep reaching for better things. He is always looking for new ways to motivate himself.
My Dad also wanted to motivate us to try our best and to work hard as hard as he did.
The great thing about Dads is that they don’t always have to speak to make their point.
Dads like to show you things and avoid long explanations.
Dads also like to go back to old places because they appreciate history and realize that because of the old, we have the new.
This love for exploring that Dads have may be the reason that men don’t like asking for directions. After all, getting lost gives you a chance to discover new people, places and things.
I’m certain that my dad had another reason for those drives after church.
He wanted a chance to show us why he became a Dad in the first place.
He liked the feeling of his entire family being together in the car, just listening to the radio, laughing and chatting about his past.
Dads may not like long explanations, but they love telling stories about their youth and they love seeing smiles on their kid’s faces when they listen to those stories.
There are those days when you and your Dad drive each other crazy.
Their will also be a day when your Dad can’t drive at all.
Be sure to pick a day and remember the unspoken lesson of my Dad.
Take a drive with your Dad, your family or someone you love and reminisce about the past, reflect on the future and enjoy some time together.