The Day I First Lost Dad
28 August 2009: Dad’s car had to go to the workshop and he asked that I follow him so I could drive him home while his car got left behind.
Like a typical Merc driver (I apologise if this offends your sensibilities but well, you guys know what you’re like!), he weaved in and out of traffic, overtook cars, tried to get the better of his fellow drivers on the road and well, basically, drove like a madman very sure of his own hand and confident in his ride. My dad was a good driver, albeit a reckless one. One of my earliest memories of him (besides of him throwing me down on the bed for rounds of tickles and building a cardboard house for me, complete with cut-out door and windows), was of him fighting and quarrelling with other errant drivers. I have countless memories of him swerving to a stop next to another car, getting out angrily and engaging in verbal combat with another driver.
Okay, so maybe he’s not a typical Merc driver, but just a pretty obnoxious one. Sorry, Dad, you know I’m right.
On this particular day that he was firing his way down the roads, I – truly his daughter through and through – was determined not to lose sight of him. I like to think I drive as “well” as my dad, and I have been equally reckless and just as stubborn in manoeuvring my machine the exact and precise way I want it to be driven.
And so I trailed behind him, matching his speed and cunning.
Unfortunately, I did lose him to two or three stray cars that came between us. And each time that happened, I felt an unreasonable panic. Unreasonable but not unexplainable, because I knew exactly from whence that fear came from.
My daddy was dying of cancer and every time I lost sight of his car just felt like I had lost a little bit more of him.
And then, my father sped through a traffic light that defeated me as it turned red. He left me behind.
The one and only thing that happened as I watched his car depart from me, was to cry. I heaved great sobs in my car, Augz and my first Suzuki Swift. Great tears rolled down my cheeks as I sobbed one of those great sobs with loud gasping and uncontrollable heartbreak.
I lost my dad that afternoon.
Moments later, the lights changed and I rushed to catch up with him. When I finally reunited with him and the dance of our cars came to a stop, I snapped this picture.
It has been on my mind all these last five years since Dad left us for good. And there is only one reminder it needed to serve, and still does: Even if I lose him, we will meet again.
Dad, till that day comes, I know I’ll keep looking out for you in the cars I pass on the road – every dark blue Merc I see still leaves me looking out for you in the driver; on the rare occasions that I spy your number “8383”, I still feel like you just poked your head around to tell me you’re around… – and I know I’ll keep heading your way until the day you can hop onto my ride again, and tell me all about what you’ve learnt in our time apart.
Till then, you sit tight, and just wait for us.