My first memory is of sitting between my father and the fuel tank of his 1969 Triumph Bonneville motorcycle as we rode around the backyard of our suburban, Maryland home.
Cars and motorcycles featured heavily in my formative years. My father was an auto mechanic, and later, Service Manager, at an Oldsmobile dealership. Some days my mother would take myself and my sister and meet my dad for lunch and I would marvel at the cars up on lifts, their wheels dangling in the air, the sounds of air tools echoing through the shop.
Dad was never embarrassed by his blue collar roots. In fact, he used to say, "sure put a lot of steaks on our table." The fact we came from blue collar stock on both sides of the family (my paternal great grandfather drove a switch engine for the Illinois Central Railroad, and my maternal grandfather was a body and paint man) might have been a part of this, but I also think blue collar workers were more respected in those days.
When I was around 12 or maybe 13, my dad decided we should look for a car to restore for when I turned 16. During one of our fruitless searches to see some "rust free" car (which usually turned out to be more rust and dents than car), we passed a house where he knew a 1961 Chevy Impala lived. "Hey, want to see the first car I ever bought new?" my dad asked as we turned into the driveway.
The car under the cover turned out not to be the car he'd seen at the house, but it was a '61 Impala nonetheless. The man who answered the door said we could pull the cover off to look at the car, and "oh, by the way, it's for sale."
Like a little boy, my father made laps around the car, getting slower and slower as he looked more closely at his find. Soon, a call was made to my mother who then drove up with the checkbook in hand, A price was agreed upon and we had our first car to restore. It wasn't for me for when I turned 16 (though I did later own the car for a time), but I did spend a good bit of time helping to work on it.
My dad was a pretty damned good father. He played with us, taught us the value of hard work, to respect the things we had, and to love (something he regularly displayed as it came to my mom, never failing to compliment how she looked, and pretty much everything she did).
Mom was a hard working "stay at home" mom, something the world is sorely lacking these days. There was never any doubt what she did at home was at least as valuable a contribution as what dad did at work. And when dad came home, he did a lot around the house, as well. Whether it be keeping up with the lawn, repairing some piece of plumbing, or ripping the roof of our house and adding a second story, he and mom worked hard. Maybe that's why we respected our stuff; we all knew the work that bought or built it.
And now I sit as my mom sleeps in her rocking chair, holding my dad's hand as he rocks and watches TV. He works hard to take care of her. Sometimes he gets frustrated, and frequently his back is killing him, but he does everything he can for her. Maybe more.
William K Elliott
William is a member of that ever-popular group known as “Aspiring Writers,” also known as “unemployed.” He has been dabbling in writing for some twenty or thirty years, and has finally decided to “get down to business.” With inspiration from Steven King’s “On Writing,” and a lot of support from his wife, Kristy, he has been working on his first novel.