My Dad, “Evel Knievel”
When I was seven or eight, my parents decided that motorcycles would be a great way for us to spend time together. I’m not exactly sure how my dad convinced my mom of this, but one weekend we drove off to the Honda showroom and came back with three dirt bikes: a Papa, Mama, and Baby Bear trio of red machines.
(Keep in mind that this was in the 1970s, back when the Valley of the Sun was still mostly desert and not housing developments. Also, this was a time before kids were made to wear helmets before they could hop on their bikes for a cruise through their neighborhood.)
In any case, soon we were riding out into the desert, the wind on our faces and the sun on our backs. I have a lot of good memories related to riding my motorcycle.
I also have a few not-so-great ones. For instance, one day I went out with my father to ride on a dirt-bike track some kids had created on an empty piece of ground. I was driving cautiously around the track, avoiding taking the bumps at too high of a speed, because I didn’t want to catch any air. My dad, who has what some would call an adventurous (my mom would probably call it a “reckless”) spirit, was approaching those bumps in quite the opposite manner. I watched him jump more than few times as I made my way around the course.
I don’t remember if I was watching when he lost control of his bike or not, but I do remember finding him on the ground, his teeth gritted against the pain. He told me to go home and get Mom, so I did.
We came back in the car and picked him up, taking him directly to the hospital. One of his friends must have retrieved the bike for him, because I know it made it back to our garage. At the hospital, the doctors diagnosed a broken collarbone and sent him home with his arm in a sling and instructions to “rest.”
He settled into his big recliner, moaning a little and looking terribly unhappy. Being the helpful daughter I was, I retrieved a bell from one of my games and gave it to Dad so that he could let us know if he needed anything. And, of course, he wasn’t shy about using it. He rang it when he needed the channel changed on the television, a fresh glass of tea, some food, a book…you name it. And each time Mom answered the bell, my dad seemed a little more amused.
A few days passed, and Mom needed to go to the grocery store. The nearest one was a good twenty minutes away. A typical shopping trip took at least an hour and a half, if not longer. As Mom and I drove off, I remember hoping my dad would be all right without us there. However, we didn’t get far before Mom realized she’d left her checkbook at home and turned around to get it.
As we turned into the driveway, I saw something I couldn’t believe: my father, one arm in a sling, driving his motorcycle in circles in the driveway. When he saw us, a moment of panic slid across his face, followed quickly by the impish grin he always wears when he knows he’s been caught.
Mom took the bell away immediately.