Friday, August 9, 2002

Another Day in Paradise

I grew up in and around Tyler, Texas and am the youngest of three children. Our Mother passed away when we were kids and my Father, while coming close a couple of times, never re-married. For the most part we grew up in an atypical single-parent home and our Father proved to be the best Mother a Father could ever be.
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I remember bits and pieces of those days. Some bad bits, but mostly good bits. We learned at a young age that life is a short and precious gift that should be respected and honored by living joyfully, honestly, proudly, with dignity and with an ounce of humility. My Father didn't have to tell us these things because this was who he was. A stern yet gentle man who took advantage of the good times and dealt with the bad times with a modicum of humility and his head held high.

And despite some of the bad times, I look back on my childhood and think it was all another day in paradise.

One summer afternoon I was taking my Dad's picture. We couldn't stop laughing. I can't even remember what we were talking about, but it doesn't matter. It never took much to get our motors running. Both our bodies shook wildly as we laughed hysterically and each picture progressively worsened. Sometimes around the Jonas household, even the simplest of tasks were difficult to accomplish. Out of ten pictures, these are the only ones that came out. Not surprisingly, they were the first two.

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I remember my brother ruthlessly hounding Dad to buy us a bike. I say, "us", but it was really for my brother. I'm four years his younger and no one expected me to do much riding. I knew differently, though, and everyone got over it once I demonstrated my tippy-toe technique and took off. 

After scouring the Tyler Courier Times want-ads one Saturday morning we all piled into Dad's big-ass, forest green, 6 MPG Lincoln Mark IV with the "Mafia Staff Car. Keepa You Hands Off" bumper sticker and headed off to go watch Dad, the master, take advantage of the unsuspecting seller of a Yamaha DT 100. 

Dad was a real master of the art of negotiation. Some of the biggest smiles on my Father's face occurred immediately after talking someone up or down to his price. From lake lots and houses to oil and mineral rights deeds, Dad was a player and he had a passion for the game of negotiation.

The Yammy seller didn't take long to succumb to the master and the Jonas' had a new family member - a shiny, new-to-us, run-it-in-the-dirt-till-it-will-run-no-more, green Yammy DT 100. Looks like my brother's incessant hounding actually paid off for once.

My brother and I (post tippy-toe) ran that little DT into the dirt. I remember Dad telling us that that was the last bike he was going to buy. So we spent part of the time fixing the bike and the other part riding. I mostly watched the fixing. Occassionally holding a screw driver or a pair of pliers for my brother, but nothing too involved. I wanted to keep my involvement simple and direct. After all, it wasn't even my bike.

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My Brother and Your's Truly in the Helmet

Like all August 9ths, today is a special day because it's my Father's birthday. He would have been 68 today and I wish there was something, anything I could do to enjoy another day with him. Not because of any regrets. We didn't live like that. But to hear his words of wisdom or his infectious laughter stirred up by one of his animated and simple jokes or just to let him know how much I love him one more time. To be in his presence was a gift from God. To have shared the road with him would have been heaven on earth.

At times, the open road brings temporary solace and a little slice of heaven. There are times when I'm on the road when I feel as though I've never been as close to my Father as I am at that very moment. I cherish, honor and seek out those moments because, until the day I die, that's as close to him as I'll ever be. The road is a powerful place, indeed.

I took a trip to see my Father today. And while roaming some old roads of East Texas I found myself reflecting on the thoughts above and how lucky the Jonas children were to be blessed with a Father like him. I was riding along with my Father and thinking, "Yep. This is just another day in paradise."

Happy birthday, Dad.


Davidtn said...

Powerful comments indeed. Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

I always go back to those dear times when I read this Jason. love it.

Unknown said...

I always go back to those dear times when I read this Jason. love it.

Viking Chris said...

Great story Sir.