Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My best friend's dad

When I was a little girl, my sister and I shared a best friend.  Her family became our family, her dad became like a dad to us.  Recently, he passed away and I was unable to attend his funeral because of work responsibilities.  I wanted to share a little piece of our story.

The three of us always knew we were suppose to be best friends. Wendy was 5, my sister 6, and I was 7 years old when we were introduced by our dads.  Our birthdays went June, July, and August.  And both our dads were named George.  Wendy's dad, George, was a hard working and rich, but kind and funny human being.  He loved his daughter immensely and that love spilled over to us.  His one downfall...he drank beer.  A lot.  It never made him mean or abusive, only extra goofy.  He always made us laugh and as kids, we just accepted his drinking as part of who he was.

Wendy's family lived in an old farmhouse and that's where most of my childhood memories yield from.  Every weekend, George would swing by, pick up my sister and me, and we would head to the old farmhouse.  We would spend winter evenings with him riding us around on a snow mobile through their acres and acres of grapes.  We would spend summer days jumping on the trampoline, playing in the big barn, or swimming in their pool.  He would spend weekends taking us camping or to amusement parks.

One particular weekend, when I was probably eleven, George was taking us three girls around with him on some errands.  He stopped by the motel he owned to check on a few things.  It was a small place with a few tenants, and most of them were friends and family.  All were aware that George was a drinker. We visited at the motel for about an hour or so, and by this time, George had been given plenty to drink.  A few of the grown-ups helped him stumble to the car and placed him behind the wheel.  Us girls jumped in and buckled up; I don't remember feeling any danger having him behind the wheel.  I guess that was my child's view of immortality.

The car started with a turn of the key, but as George placed it in reverse, he couldn't get it to move.  He tried again. and again.  The car wouldn't budge.  Some of the men took a look under the hood, but there was nothing amiss.  So, George put it in drive and tried.  Nothing.  At this time, Wendy-who was probably about age nine-asks, "Dad, are you stepping on the gas or the brake?"  George gives a chuckle, and says "well, that's exactly what I have been doing, stepping on the brake."

That gave us a good laugh, but us kids-not the grown-ups-thought that maybe George shouldn't be driving us the 2 miles it would take to get home.  He quickly agreed, and then said Wendy should drive us home.  Of course, this is the greatest thing he could ask a nine year old, and she wasn't about to refuse.  He sat her in front of his lap and she grabbed a hold of the wheel bursting with excitement.  He worked the pedals since she couldn't reach, but she handled the steering wheel like a champion.  It was the most exciting thing that ever happened any of us.  The roads were dark and there was no traffic; there was also no fear between the three of us girls.  We were having fun.  Ten minutes later, we arrived home, safe and sound, to the old farmhouse.  All four of us made a pact never to mention this to Wendy's mom.  And we never did, but we did add another unforgettable memory to the bank.

**I wrote this for Magpie Tales 29 in memory of a man whom I considered very special to me.  I don't have one memory of him being unkind, abusive, or angry.  I remember him as a happy, generous, hard working man who loved his family-even the extended one.  As kids we didn't see how dangerous his alcoholism was-it surely had a hand in what killed him.  Though, I only remember him showing us nothing but unconditional love.


  1. wow. this is a great memory, but a tad bit scary. times were a bit different back then. i remember getting a sip of a pabst blue ribbon from the man driving the car once...i was more concerned with getting the taste out of my mouth than i was how well he was driving...

  2. Oh, gosh, those were the days, weren't they? Such commonplace things that would be considered unthinkable now.

    My husband used to let our kids drive on certain occasions, little short excursions, on country roads, before they had their licenses. Kids used to learn to drive trucks and tractors by age 10 back in Kansas in the 50s and 60s.

  3. oh goodness....what a story...glad it was a happy ending. Whew

  4. I'm glad that story had a happy ending...I was beginning to worry when it was discovered that he was pressing the brakes. Children have no fear, do they?

  5. What a bittersweet story/memory. Don't we all know someone like that from our childhood, some lovely, flawed, unforgettable person. Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

    And thanks for your thoughtful comment about my Magpie. I appreciate it, gal!

  6. These memories are priceless, such a wonderful story to recollect. I had a friendship like yours and my friend's dad, although not a drinker, was very much like the man you described.

    CJ xx

  7. The Other George sounds like he was a truly wonderful man, and you've written such a fitting tribute. Thank you so much for sharing your memories with us!

  8. And there were no seat belts then! Amazing memory with a good outcome. Enjoyed the read!

  9. loved reading this
    and I think he was a special person in your life
    despite his problem of drinking
    good magpie
    he gave you a place of belonging

  10. thankyou for sharing this beautiful memory :)
    it not only made me smile through it but get an insight to quite a different lifestyle. gald it was a happy ending.

  11. I am late to reading this but really enjoyed the story. I could feel the love and good feelings emanating from it. It is good that he touched your life like that. :-)

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