The Deployment Diary

Saturday, March 13, 2004

I'm a Daddy's Girl

I always have been. I can remember being five years old and sitting in the garage of our home in GA watching Daddy work on a car. He's not a mechanic by trade. He worked on airplanes in the Air Force during Vietnam, he worked for Lockheed Martin when my parents first married and that was the extent of it.

When I was a teen, I wanted to be just like him - be great at working on cars too. My Father, he could fix a car with a bowl of oatmeal and a string if he had to. He's brilliant. At 15, he drove to AL with one of my uncles (one of his six other siblings) and picked me and my muscle car up and drove us back to GA. He had hoses, belts and tools in my uncles car figuring something "would crap out" (as he would say) on the way lol. I'm proud to say my old 77 Trans-Am purred at 60 down I-20, making it out to the barn at my Grandmother's house with no problems. There, I spent two weeks watching my father rebuild the top end of my car.

The car you see, had been purchased brand new off the lot by him in 1977. In the divorce, Mother chose the Trans-Am over a 1972 Honda CVCC that resembled a booger as she put it. She was right - it was quite the ugly color of green lol. To quote her, "He must think I'm stupid if he thinks all I'm getting out of this marriage is a green booger" I once over heard her saying to my Grandmother when I was suppose to be outside playing ;). Mother had a strict rule of no one EVER saying a bad word about Daddy in front of us kids, divorce or no divorce. I thank her for that to this day. It made things so much easier.

Then, my lovely liberal, everyone-owes-him-something-brother got his hands on the car at the age of 16. Where he drove the car into the dirt, never changed the oil, put it into a ditch more than once (thankfully never doing any body damage to it, just dragging weeds out with it) - in short it was, as we would have said back then, "ragged out."

You see, when you do not change the oil, the oil gets dirty. There's friction in them there engines. There's this thing called a cam-shaft that moves lifters on rods and when it's not taken care of, that cam-shaft gets worn. The cam in this car was so worn, if you came to a quick stop - the car went dead. When Daddy pulled it out of that 400 block - the cam's lobes were worn to almost complete circles. Daddy said he had no idea how we'd even got it to crank, much less drove it two hours.

Mother had taken the car from my brother after the umpteenth time he'd done something stupid with it. Then she gave him her land yacht at the time (a gray caddy) where within six weeks he proceeded to run from the cops for some still unknown reason LMAO and got caught. Mother peeled paint for several weeks over that one. I'm sure Big L begged the cops to keep him in lock up so he could stay safe lol. Guess them caddy's just don't handle as well as those Trans-Ams with limited slip and a 6.6 Litre engine lol! Idiot.

Yes, I was the "good' child lol. Ok, so I had my few slips growing up like spray painting a stop sign once (and getting caught), missing curfew - mild, MILD in comparison lol. For the most part, I got to be the wall flower - and watch Mother's head explode and her peel paint every other week as she ripped him a new one for some idiotic thing he'd done. He was LOSER with a capital "L" in those days. He's now a pretty good guy just a screaming left wing liberal - so "Big L" still fits him heh heh. I'm a meanie right winger. What can I say?

At any rate, Daddy couldn't stand the thought of me being stuck on the side of the road in this ragged out car, so he came and got me and the car and rebuilt the top end in it. He put an oversized Crane Cam in it, replaced gaskets, push rods and lifters (and other things I'm sure). He put the motor back together and we hopped in to take a test drive late one summer afternoon. There was this huge curve down by my Grandmother's home and once you got past the curve - a long straight-away. He hit the curve at 20 mph, slowed up to the straight away and said, "Lets see what she'll do."

He stomped it, that car squatted down like it was hugging the road, hit second and left black marks (it was an automatic by the way) - my heart is pounding, my Father breaks out in a cold sweat and we pull slowly into my Grandmother's drive. He stops. Of course, I'm thinking "yeah baby!! Got me a muscle car now!!" lol.

Daddy, white as sheet says, "Baby, I don't think that cam was a good idea. You've got to understand what you've got under the hood here and it's something that can kill you. You have to promise me you'll be careful and not be like your idiot brother running the thing off in a ditch. With what we've done to this car - you won't be coming out of the ditch, baby."

My excitement crumbled. He was worried that he'd just signed my death certificate. I'm a Daddy's girl and him worrying settled any allusions I had for a while of being The Bandit lol. I promised and before long, I was back to watching the car sit in Mother's drive and counting down days until my sixteenth birthday.

I had money saved and had it painted. Black (original color) with slight gold metallic added to the paint. Not enough to make it gold if the sun hit it, but enough to make it sparkle some. The new Phoenix went on the hood, the rest of the decals for the back bumper, the sides and the hood scoop. I had the seats redone where Big L (brother's) bony butt had ripped out stitches. The car was perfect by my 16th birthday.

I quickly found out it would pass everything but a gas station. And, ever since Daddy had driven it off the lot years before, it had some electrical problem where it liked to eat alternators - and later on starters too. I've changed more alternators and starters than most women have changed nail polish. I've changed fuel filters, replaced belts, changed oil and oil filter blah blah blah. If it "crapped out" on that car, I fixed it - except for having the carburetor rebuilt. I did hire a professional to eventually do that lol. Those things were out of my league.

Needless to say, I worked a lot those last two years of high school just to keep gas in the car, insurance paid and parts replaced ;). You know you have an old muscle car when you know the tow truck driver by name - and they know you when you call and say, "Yeah, I've got that black Trans-Am and need the back towing tow truck to come get me. I'm right past mile marker..." And they reply "Well, it's been two months, we were wondering when you'd call us again." LMBO!

I loved that car though. It was Daddy's - it was my link to Daddy being the product of a divorce that moved us to the state next door where I rarely saw him.

Eventually, I parked it at Mothers while I went on to a non-gas guzzler of a Celica. She fielded the Bubbas who stopped by every month or so to see if I had decided to sell it. I finally did in 1998. My husband and I were in VA on our way to AK - he was still in the desert and Mother had had enough of listening to Big L whine about the car "sitting there to rust" and five Bubbas a week stopping by wanting to buy it.

My heart is still with that car. It was my adolescence and for so long my only link to my father. Now, I no longer have the car, but this Daddy's girl gets to talk to him every week and email often. He's one of the few people in this world besides my husband I admire. One of the few people besides my husband who can do no wrong and if there's even a whisper of someone alluding to them doing wrong - I'll stand toe to toe defending them.

And he has me worried. All this to say, my father is seeing a cardiologist on Tuesday. Seems on his yearly physical, something was found wrong with his heart. We won't know what until the day before my birthday. Perfect timing huh? He'll visit the cardiologist and they'll give him the results of the tests they've done.

I can't email my husband and talk to him about it. We made a deal before he left. If someone in the family was sick and they wouldn't send him home, I'd sit on the info until he returned. No sense in chancing his mind being elsewhere and getting him hurt. So it's just me. Standing on my own two feet again instead of leaning on my husband's shoulders. I'm facing this one head on - but it sure would be easier if he were here. No sense lying about that one.

Please say a prayer for my Dad. He's a great man and I'm not ready to lose him. I'm not done being a Daddy's girl and making him proud of me...

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