Father’s Day Memories

My dad passed away seven years ago, on March 30, 2010. There’s not a day goes by that I don’t think about him. Father’s Day stirs memories of pool parties and cook outs, my dad grilling, waving a spatula around as he chatted animatedly. 

I also remember the long summer evenings of my teen years, when my dad and several of his friends would roar off into the night on their motorcycles, usually with me and one of my sisters perched on the back of a couple of the bikes. That was freedom to me, riding along in the gathering dusk, the cool wind tangling my long hair. The songs of the summer insects and the distintive rumble of the motorcycle as it sped down the road invited my soul to soar. 

Father's Day Memories
In fact, I strongly connect motorcycles with my father. He always had one…or two or three…as far back as I can remember. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of sitting as a toddler in front of my young dad on a Harley Davidson as he slowly cruised up and down the street, giving me a ride. Toward the end of his life, Dad favored a yellow Harley Davidson Fat Boy and finally, when he grew more frail, he rode a black Harley trike. 

That motorcycle connection carries sweet significance today. 

After my father passed away, my gracious stepmom invited my sisters and me to pick out shirts of my dad’s to keep. I don’t recall what Linda and Debbie chose, but I took home a shirt that my dad wore shortly before he passed…a Harley Davidson sleeveless tee. 

My dad fought a valiant two year battle with pancreatic cancer. When he drew his final breath he was a shadow of his former self, so the shirt I selected was small in size. I tucked it away in a drawer and never expected to wear it, as I knew it would not fit me. But it was Dad’s. The essence of who he was clung to that shirt like a fragrance. I was grateful to have it. 

Imagine my delight recently, nine months after adopting a plant based lifestyle, to try on the Harley Davidson shirt and discover that it now fit perfectly. It forged a stronger connection with my dad, to be able to wear his shirt. I knew then that when Father’s Day arrived this year, I would wear the sleeveless t shirt in honor of my motorcycle dad. 

And I have worn the shirt today, with a sense of joy and remembrance. With my jeans, black boots and the black t shirt, I look like a biker babe, or at least, a wanna be biker babe. I think I needed a doo rag to pull off the look! I have felt my dad near in spirit, exuding joy himself. Surrounding me throughout the day has been a deep abiding love, as real as the fabric of this shirt we have shared, a father’s compassion for his child…a daughter’s adoration of her father. 

Father's Day Memories
As I drove to my mom and stepdad’s house this afternoon, to join my sister in treating Walter to a father’s day lunch, I scanned the road around me. Since his death, my dad has sent a yellow motorcycle across my path each Father’s Day, as a way to let me know he is near, that death is not the end, that his soul is eternal. 

The street I normally use to get to my mom’s is closed for repairs. I was forced to drive another way. The pavement was wet, and the air cool, after hours of thunderstorms. Would anyone be out on a motorcycle today? As I drove I began to ask, “Where are you Dad? Where is the yellow motorcycle? Where are you?” 

I was almost to the turn off to Mom’s. I kept watching…asking…hoping. Suddenly, over the hill ahead popped a motorcycle, the only one I would see today, roaring toward me and then flying by. 

It was a yellow motorcycle. My iPhone lay forgotten on my lap. I didn’t get a pic. But I laughed and thanked my dad for his timely love note. And I recalled that one of my last memories of my dad involved a motorcycle as well. On his birthday in October of 2010, six and a half months after his death, my father’s ashes were released from the back of a motorcycle as it cruised over the hills of Eureka Springs, AR. Freedom was won for my dad as his soul soared. 

Happy Father’s Day Dad. I am wearing your shirt. I am thinking about you, remembering so many things. I am grateful to be your daughter. I love you! 

Father's Day Memories

Dad’s Harley Davidson Shirt

This is not the blog post I thought I was going to write. I rented the Best Picture nominated film Hacksaw Ridge to watch tonight and intended to do a review. Although it’s been a long day and I arrived home late…and tired…I was determined to watch the movie. 

However, as I was preparing to change into my comfy clothes, a thought arose, seemingly from out of the blue. Try on your dad’s shirt. Maybe the thought wasn’t so far out there. I had been thinking of my dad more than usual today. He died seven years ago this month and the anniversary of his passing is approaching. 

Dads Harley Davidson shirt
All his adult life, my dad owned motorcycles. He especially favored Harley Davidsons. I have so many fond and cherished memories of riding behind my dad on one of his bikes. I always felt safe on our adventures, riding down the highway or motoring along on a country road, perched on the seat with my arms around my dad. Near the end of his earthly journey, my dad switched to a Harley trike, as it was easier for him to ride. 

Dads Harley Davidson shirt

Dads Harley Davidson shirt
After his death, my stepmom had my sisters and me select one of Dad’s t shirts to take home as a keepsake. I picked out a Harley Davidson sleeveless T. From the design on the back, I’d guess that he bought it in Fort Smith, Arkansas. My father loved to ride through the hills and woods of Arkansas. This shirt was a perfect memento….except for one thing. 

It was a very small shirt. 

After a two year battle with pancreatic cancer, my dad was literally a shadow of himself as he neared the end of his life. He had lost so much weight, and he was never a big guy before his illness. This shirt was proof of that. 

Dads Harley Davidson shirt
I knew it wasn’t likely that I would ever be able to wear my dad’s shirt. But I chose it anyway and took it home. Occasionally I’d hold the shirt close to my heart and think of my dad. However, most of the time it has been tucked away in a drawer, laundered and neatly folded. 

Until tonight. Try on your dad’s shirt.

I have been living a plant based lifestyle for almost nine months. I feel incredibly healthy and I have cleared up many minor and not so minor health issues. And as a side benefit, I have lost weight. That wasn’t my goal when I changed my diet…being healthy and pain free was. And yet there is no denying that along with improving my health, I have trimmed down. 

I almost felt nervous, slipping Dad’s shirt over my head. I closed my eyes as I tugged the shirt down and thought of my dad…his smile, his laughter, his hugs, his zest for life. I opened my eyes and gazed into the mirror. The shirt fit…perfectly! 

It’s one of those little things that is huge. To me. I treasure this shirt even though I thought it would remain tucked away in the drawer. No. I will be wearing this shirt this summer. Wearing it and enjoying it, for my dad, in remembrance of him and in the process of loving and living life. 

In my joy, I could hear my dad whisper “Way to go Sissy. The shirt looks good on you.” 

“Thanks Dad,” I whispered back. “I love you.” 

Dads Harley Davidson shirt