When I was a kid my dad used to take me on bike rides. When I was really little I would sit in this little black seat that was attached to the back of my dad’s bike. I would be so very happy while my dad would be pedaling us to the park or wherever he decided to ride to that day. My pigtails would be blowing in the wind, fresh air on my face.
I was very happy to just spend time with my dad and It really didn’t matter what we were doing, as long as I got to be with my dad. Some of the strongest memories with him were the bike rides, days at the beach, watching him fix our cars. He spent a lot of time under those two old cars we had. A big old Chrysler station wagon and a little ugly dodge dart. That big old rusty white tank of a car saved our life one day but that is a story is for another time.
I got very used to just seeing my dads legs as he worked tirelessly under those cars for hours at a time trying to keep them running. Sometimes I would just sit there and pass him tools or just sit there and do absolutely nothing and sometimes I would talk to him about whatever kids talk about, who knows if he even heard me but I would have whole conversations with just his legs. I loved my daddy like breathing air.
They always said I was a daddy’s girl. They were right.
As I got a little older I would have a bike of my own and I would be following along behind my dad. We used to ride our bikes to this park where there was a stream that I would play in. In that little stream we could see small fish and there was a little sandy beach and that is where my dad taught me the art of skipping stones. First we would spend time looking for just the perfect flat shiny stone.
My dad would say it has to be a special kind of stone, not just any stone would do. Once we had the stones we would start skipping then in the water, with a side arm kind of throw. He was really good at it. He was very patient with me and we did it over and over again until I could make the rocks skip over the water too just like dad, three times was cool but four or five was the REALLY cool!
One day we were at the park skipping rocks and he said do you see all those ripples that the rocks make on the water? I said yes. I was hanging on every word, because my dad was a quiet man. He was a wise man but he was a quiet man. He said that is like life. Its a ripple effect, one ripple brings on a next ripple and so on and on and on.
He said when you are nice to someone it can make them happy and then when they are happy they can make another person happy. Just like the ripples in the water. Do you understand? So it’s always good to be nice all the time. Ripples are important. Always remember that. OK? I said I would.
It turns out I did remember that and I never forgot. I always thought about that day in the park and what it really meant to him. What made him tell me that on that specific day? What was he thinking about? What was he feeling? Was he happy or sad?
As I grew older I began to understand that he was the kind of man that everyone loved, not just me. Just as my three sisters had to learn to share their dad with me; I had to learn to share him with the world.
I mean as a child I loved him instinctual, he was a super hero to me but as I got older I loved him even more for the special kind of man he was. His heart was huge.
He wasn’t perfect but he was beautiful.
The truth will always show itself if enough time passes. I realized he lived the way he told me too that day in the park at the river’s edge. He was ALWAYS kind and he made ripples everywhere.
He was not my biological dad but you couldn’t tell. We were so close. People always told me I looked like him. Probably just mannerisms and all but I liked it when people said that. I was a foster kid that came into the house and it was supposed to be temporary foster home. I wasn’t supposed to stay at that house but he loved me so much he never let me go and so ..I never left. First Ripple.
He had been going through a tragedy of his own around that time so looking back maybe I was a distraction for him. Maybe I was his little project to take his mind off of his own suffering. He already had three daughters of his own. Why bring in another? Money was tight. If it hadn’t been for him I might have gone back into foster care. Who knows from there what would have been. My mom took most of the responsibility of raising me and I don’t forget it. I will speak of her at a different time. Ripples. Just like the ripples that were made to put me into foster care, different Ripples were what got me out of foster care. Ripples can change a life. Destroy a life and Create a life or just make someone happy or sad.
I miss him as I breathe.
I still skip rocks today. It’s one of those little rituals I’ll do to be close to my dad. If I find the perfect shiny flat stone, not any stone will do; I pick it up, put it in my pocket and keep it for next time I am at the river’s edge.