Do you know what the above vehicle is? It's called a Volkswagen Thing. I kid you not. The picture is from the offical VW Thing website, http://www.dastank.com/ My Dad had one back in the early 1980's and he, along with most of the rest of the family, loved it. I don't remember where he purchased it, but i do know he got a good deal on it. He almost always did, no matter what he bought. His was painted flat camouflage and it did not have the roll bars on it. The canvas top was down most of the time except in rain or really cold weather and it had clear plastic windows that could easily be taken out. During the summers we kids (teenagers and young adults at the time) liked sitting on the back end, not on the seats --until a military policeman told us kindly to stop that. I wish I had a picture of my father and the Thing. I know someone in the family has one though, and when i can I will make a copy to display on this post, as well as to frame.
My Dad died when I was a young teenager, about 15 years old. He didn't get to see me graduate high school, didn't get to meet my husband or walk me down the aisle, and my two were the only grandchildren he never held. My oldest son's grave, however, is right next to his Papa's.
During the fifteen years that I had my Father on this earth, he taught --or tried to, anyway--many lessons. It's only years after "growing up" that I realized what many of those lessons were. He taught me to ride a bike and attempted to teach me typing and soccer, but not in the way you'd expect. He knew what I was interested in and as he could, he bought the bike, the typewriter, and a soccer ball, and gave them to me. With the bike, he told me how to use it instead of the movie scene where the Dad holds on to the bike and then lets go. I wasn't happy at first, but after trial and error I figured it out and then couldn't wait to show him that I could ride a bike. The other two were similar experiences. I eventually learned to type, with the lessons of typing class in high school (I failed miserably in that class)finally kicking in when my husband brought home our first computer in the 1990's. Soccer? Well, I kicked the ball around, but never really learned how to play. I never really understood the real lesson behind all three of those activities: I was being taught independence, and he believed I was smart enough to figure things out for myself.
We didn't have a lot of money when I was growing up, but I never really realized it. We always had plenty to eat and our needs were taken care of. But lack of money for new things never really stopped my Dad. He was the one likely to stop at yard sales, not my mother. And to her chagrin, it wouldn't phase him to stop at a dumpster if he saw something that captured his interest. When a used van he bought didn't have seats in the back, he found a foam rubber chair that could be unfolded to become a bed and placed it inside. And in the very back he built a bed. It worked for our needs. A man who loved camping but being on the ground not so much, he bought a burned out pop up camper bottom from someone he knew. At first he simply used it as a trailer to haul stuff in, but eventually added a tent to it. These days I find myself trying to think like he did, seeing the potential in something others might not find valuable at all.
As a kid, I had a love/hate relationship with the home we lived in. It was quiet unless other kids were there, and neighbors weren't right on top of us. In fact, the closest one was a little less than half a mile away. But at times it could be lonely for a young girl growing up. There was no cable television out in the country. It was an older house so there were problems with the well pump and such at times. Not very fun, especially in winter. But being retired from over twenty years in the Army and an avid camper and as well as having a love for all things old, my Dad made it work. He bought a wood burning stove at one time and learned to cook a few things on it. Had he lived, I wouldn't doubt that he would have taught himself how to cook almost anything in and on that stove.
Being a teenager, I dismissed a lot of what he tried to teach me, yet the lessons come back more and more these days as I get older. Some part of me was listening. His teachings are still ingrained in me: turn off the lights if you're not in the room; say Yes, Ma'am and No Sir (okay so I fail at that one more often than not, but I'm working on it); help out where you can, do the best you can. Make it work. Sorry, Dad, I never did learn to like fishing. I still get bored too easily and I'd rather talk someone's ear off or bury my nose in a book. But, despite the high sodium content, I do love S.O.S (otherwise known as Chipped Beef on Toast). I now long for the peace and tranquility of living out in the middle of nowhere. I want to go camping again. I am my Father's Daughter.