My Father’s Words

Sheila - Newport Beach, California
Entered on September 24, 2008
Age Group: 50 - 65
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On a warm July in 1993 I stood in front of strangers, friends, and family at my father’s funeral. To honor him I shared my earliest memory of him. The memory was about my fifth birthday the day my father taught me how to ride my first bicycle-minus training wheels!

I remember jumping up and down with a big grin on my face as I readied myself to mount the seat. With the help of my father I grabbed the silver handle bars with my tiny hands and climbed on the seat like a big girl. At once I placed my shoes on the black peddles, balancing, and wobbling, and trying not to fall. As I started pedaling my handle bars swayed to the left and then to the right in a sharp zig zag motion, within seconds I lost balance and fell to the street. My knees and elbows scrapped on the asphalt, instantly I began to cry.

My father calmly told me to try again. He assured me his steady hand would be there at my seat to guide me. He said, “if you fall, get back on and try again, don’t give up on yourself.” I climbed back on feeling just a little more secure. I leaned into the handle bars putting all my mighty weight on the pedals. The bars were straight as an arrow they didn’t zig or zag. I felt safe because my father was holding on to me. I was so excited as I propelled myself down the street. With a gleam in my eyes I turned for his approval but to my surprise he had let go. I was really on my own.

Years later as an adult woman, circumstances forced me to summon up my father’s words. “if you fall get back on and try again”. I needed his steady hand as I went through a devastating divorce, which included losing my home and children. And at the same time I lost my job and had to face the fact that my daughter was dying of cancer. I was a shattered shell of myself but those words carried me. I began to rebuild my life. I found a better job. I rented an apartment and soon thereafter gained custody of my son. I believe I am resilient. My daughter’s condition somehow moved me to homes of families who had seriously ill children. I lent my support and through my giving I experienced a spiritual closeness to my daughter.

Fifty four years later I still ride a bicycle although now a pastel pink beach cruiser. I ride along the beach boardwalk. I did take a minor fall one day but I quickly climbed back on. I leaned forward into the handle bars and spun those peddles hard. The bars were straight as an arrow they didn’t zig or zag. With a gleam in my eyes I turned to get my father’s approval and I believe he gave me a smile.