Love this image from Suzanne Burke for the #24 Fiction in a Flash Challenge!
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One of my fondest memories is of Dad holding my daughter’s hand while she clambered up his legs to sit in his lap.
When we were growing up, my brother and I didn’t see a lot of my father. He was a hard-working truck driver who spent most of his days on the road delivering groceries from town to town.
It was normal for him to be gone 15-16 hours at a time, so it was understandable when he got home all he wanted was a hot meal and his bed. We learned from a young age to tread lightly and give him his peace. He was French Canadian, with a strong accent and deep voice that could be intimidating to young kids. It wasn’t that he was mean- never that- only tired and not up to our jibber-jabbering.
When I got older and became an obnoxious teen (yeah, me :)), he decided I could go to work with him as his swamper. Let me tell you, that was interesting! My job was to keep the driver- Dad- awake, be an extra pair of eyes on the road, and help unload the boxes at each stop. Some nights, I’d barely arrive home from running around with my friends when it would be time to leave for work.
We’d drive down to the warehouse, make sure the trailer was properly loaded and the invoices in place, then it was over to the truck bay to start the semi.
Dad had a White Western Star with a shiny chrome grille and bumper, something like the one below, except white with red and blue pinstriping.
He was so proud of that truck, and kept it immaculate. We’d often have people stopping to take a picture of it.
Our run included the town of Jasper in Jasper National Park. Set in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, it’s truly breathtaking, but something of a logistical nightmare for getting around in with an eighteen wheeler!
We delivered to grocery stores, hotels, and Jasper Park Lodge and if we weren’t dodging elk or Mountain sheep, it was the tourists. Once, one crazy person even tried driving under the trailer because we weren’t moving fast enough for them!
Dad thought nothing of hopping into the trailer, though it was shoulder high even for him. I had to scramble up however I could, though once in a while he’d give me a haul up (which felt like flying, lol). He’d help me move a stack of boxes to the door, then he’d hop down and start carrying them in to the customer while I made sure the order matched the invoice and kept the boxes ready for pick up.
By the time we were done and headed home, every muscle ached and my eyelids weighed a ton. I also gained a deep respect for all Dad did to keep our family housed and fed.
When my daughter came along, some years later it was as though Dad saw it as a second chance for the things he’d missed when we were kids. He and Mom would come over Sunday mornings for coffee and a visit and he seemed content to have a toddler crawling all over him. She was fascinated by his big hands with their tough calluses, and would place her tiny fingers in his and smile up at him, happy to be in Grandpa’s loving arms.
She was six when he passed away, and my biggest regret is that he wasn’t able to teach her all the love and respect he taught me with his guiding hands.