The temperature gauge in my car started fluctuating like a presidential candidate’s professed policies once again. Oh no, I thought. I had just filled up my coolant tank in Tucumcari, and I made it all the way to San Jon before I started hitting the H on my dash. Time to pull over.
A half-hour later I was back on the road. I had given my car some time to cool down and I had a new strategy. I would fill the coolant tank to the very top and pull my car over to refill the tank every twenty minutes or so until I made it to my parents’ house.
Eventually my step dad, Thad, decided the risk was too much. I pulled over and waited in Bushland, Texas for Mom and Thad to show up with the U-Haul trailer.
Thad spent Saturday replacing my radiator while I watched, bewildered. He said he had never performed the operation before but it “shouldn’t be too hard.” He magically knew all of the parts we would need and what questions to ask the lady at the auto parts store. The myriad tools in his collection were enough for the task, and the clockwork mechanics of his brain were able to see the process through, grasping which piece of my car performed what task and recognizing the exact circumstances in which those piecemeal parts would work together as a whole. I replaced the air filter all by myself.
I have long since despaired of achieving his knowledge. Over the decades, I have seen Thad pretty well take apart and put an entire car together again. He would usually have me go to the garage with him on the weekends while he tuned things up. My attention span failed me time and time again as I am basically just as automotivally educated as I was at age 3 when my parents married.
His sense of motivation never quite rubbed off on me, either. I spent Sunday on a chair while my sister and I watched a few movies. Thad buzzed back and forth through the living room as he worked on replacing a bathroom sink. The man easily spends 32 hours a day on his feet.
He did make some headway with me, though. Along with my mom, he taught me how to give and demand respect, how to differentiate between honest and dishonest people and how to conduct myself in a gentleman-like manner.
Mine is a lucky family to have Thad in it, as I’m sure he well knows. So here’s to the fathers out there. I might think you’re crazy right now for choosing to raise children, but the world is a better place because of you. Well done, y’all.