Monday, September 20, 2010

I Thought I Was Prepared

Eagle Scout medal, Robbins Type 5Image via Wikipedia
The first time I drove him somewhere was the last. I had done it before, hand transferring him from a wheel chair to the car, when we left Casa Colina and headed to the VA Hospital in Long Beach. This time though, I dropped him. I instantly started to feel like a real piece of dirt, “I’m dropping my father; there is nothing I can do,” straight into a series of embarrassing frustrated thoughts of now what!

I had driven to Roselle’s home to see my dad and last minute we decided, well I talked him into letting me try, to go off together in my truck. This was not just any truck, but a speaker on wheels and I’ll never forget the first time my dad got in that car with me way before he was transformed.

My dad bought the truck in 1997, I had already graduated high school and I was attending Saddleback College, still loving my Land Cruiser, a 1977 FJ40, which was a present from my parents for obtaining my Eagle Scout. I loved the yota, but in ’98 my photography business was booming and I was driving all over the place, so I started to work something out with my dad.

Then In 1998 somewhere in that year, my dad started riding a street bike, a real piece of work. It was a Kawasaki 1000, an old cop bike. It was a trip to ride, I took it out a couple of times when no one was paying attention, and the cars would instantly slow down or pull over as Icame up on them because even though I didn’t have the cool stuff like a shot gun, flashing lights or anything else that distinguishes a cop bike from a civilians, it still looked pretty close, and no one was willing to take a chance. At any rate, my dad let me have the Nissan truck for all my travles.

It didn’t take me long to go to work on the truck, dropping it on Beltech racing suspension, lead shot the tail gate, rims, and the 18 speakers in the cab! I was pushing over 10,000 wats 2 12” Cerwin Vega’s and vega’s all around in 6 ½”, 4’s and tweets, all pointing in optimum direction for maximum sound. The first test run cracked the back window followed by cracking the front. There was over 200 pounds of dynomatt in the car and it boomed! Got a ticket one time from a 1 mile approach, the cop said he heard me and it took me what seemed like forever to get to him. He told me he never heard anything like it – well he hadn’t met my buddy with his VW bug and his 32” vega!!

After the car was Deano-fied, I showed it off to my dad, blinging the chrome in the wheels, the shinny Toyota front end I put on and the ultimate sound. My dad was like a kid in again. We took it up and over to cook’s corner and I had no clue you could drive a truck that fast! Each turn he went faster and faster and I raised the volume louder and louder, of course to rock and roll, none of that rap crap (my favorite in the sound machine). I would never have thought this would be the last time he would drive with me in a car, at least as my father I grew up with.

I’ll never forget his face and the excitement he had when he drove that truck. I was proud of myself that I made something that he loved. It was common enough in my life, me impressing my dad with my abilities and talents, but I never grew tired of it. I loved being with him, hanging out, talking, doing guy stuff, whatever, he was always my dad, but we were truly best buds – always.

Now, I was picking him up a little more than a year after that joy ride and it was different. I told him I would like to go for a drive with him and I knew I could transfer him into the truck, my concern was getting him out because that was a down to up move which took more strength and leverage, but I was confident.  I had preapred for this by working with individuals at Casa Colina for his first transfer I did and mentally going voer the moves I would do in transfering him.  More than anything I just wanted to go cruise with him again. So I talked him into letting me get him in the truck and going out. He obliged. He was also much lighter at this time. Early on in his transformation he was still thin and I could move him into position, there was no way later on that I was going to be able to do this with him.
Getting him in to leave and then out of the truck to our destination was fine, so I was thinking this was a simple idea and we headed into the Snake Pit for the meeting, followed by some coffee with some of the guys. After the meeting we walked over to the flee-market, just browsing, we both loved the window shopping experience, as long as it was guy stuff we were staring at. After a bit of a lunch we walked back to the car and that’s when it happened. My transfer of him back into the car was a disaster. I’m not sure what went wrong, but I dropped him. Now I have a 180 pound anchor at my feet and it’s my dad and I’m near to tears because I’ve dropped my dad.

I muscled him with as much determination as I could back up into the seat, apologizing the whole way through. It took me at least 4 tries, picking him up, losing my strength, losing my grip, and dropping him back down. My dad being himself the encouraging loving father he always was to me just kept telling me how good I was doing and that I could get him up into the seat. I did, but to this day it’s a memory I feel bad about and can vividly re-create. I can still see me barely holding on to him slipping to the ground into a pretzel shape of a ball, lying there, unable to do anything. It solidified the condition my father was in and maybe that was what hurt worse.

We cruised for a bit and then headed back to Roselle’s. After getting him out of the truck, back into his regular chair, the electric one, we sat and chatted and agreed that was the last of the Nissan rides.

That however was not the last of our mini adventures we would take together. He and I went everywhere, sometimes with my kid brother, but mostly just me and him. We went to the movies, to art shows, car shows, The Getty, baseball games, you name it, and he wanted to go. As I got older, married and had my daughter the outings became less and less. I certainly fault no one that was just life and what was requested of me and my time to get through and my father never complained.

We used Access from there on. Access has its fantastic attributes, but it certainly has a lot of gaps in all of its wonder. Being a government program, funding is an issue, so you sacrifice some, but you sure get some pretty great deals out of it. We will leave that for another time…

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