Thursday, April 18, 2013

Riding With Dad

A  L  O  H  A !
While I was growing up,
my Dad had a janitorial
service back in Philly
where he and I were born.
We cleaned many places,
banks, auto dealers, offices.
Whenever I am "alone" in a 
big building, it feels like 4 am,
finished with cleaning, ready
to go home. The private moment
above, early morning inside
Waikiki Post Office 96815,
makes me feel like Dad is 
just around the corner. . .
he feels very close.
Then I remember
he is gone.


New Day - New Home


The memory below
was a blog post in 2009,
then a guest column.

Let me share with you,
my last ride with Dad -


Today I had to drive out to Mapunapuna and pick Dad up.

“Come Fairies, take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame!”
William Butler Yeats

A "Funny" guy,
 he could be stressful to others. 
But I knew we'd have a lovely ride together.

“I think the thing to do is to enjoy the ride while you're on it.”
Johnny Depp



I loved to see him laugh, 
and I really enjoyed sharing my town,
 Honolulu, with this "city boy"
 from the streets of Philadelphia
who had lived on the rural Big Island
 of Hawaii for years. 
Here he is with Mom
enjoying the Lunar New Year's Lion Dance blessing.


“Love doesn't make the world go 'round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.”
Franklin P. Jones




So I drove out the H-1 this morning and picked him up.
It was a quiet ride. I did most of the talking.
He didn't criticize my driving, or suggest a better route.
He wasn't preoccupied with a list of "things to be done" and "things to worry about."
We stopped at the drive-through at Wendy's, and parked under a tree while I had lunch. He didn't want anything.
I remembered that some of the best times we ever had were in cars, including those diminutive English Fords he used in his route. He drove through the various ethnic neighborhoods of Philly selling dresses, housewares, and small luxuries to housewives on the installment plan. They bought some, they paid some; Poor Italians, Poles, "Negroes" (as polite folks called them then). He knew every corner in our "city of neighborhoods."
And everybody knew my Dad, albeit under a variety of "street names." I remember:
"Johnny the Dress Man."
for one.
Sometimes, like over winter break from school, I'd ride beside him, piled in with all the "merchandise" and all the notebooks, tools, and empty soda bottles that made up his "office."
My schoolmates remained safely in suburban ignorance, but I knew the grit, cobblestones, trolley tracks, corner "tap rooms" (bars/pubs) factories, and older housing stock of the city." I also knew that everyone was not Caucasian.
At Christmas the housewives clucked over me, and fed me cookies from every culinary tradition in town! Not my favorite Chinatown, though, as that was still a mysterious and impenetrable enigma broached only for "Chinese" food (the nectar of urban life!).
When I saw this exact "salesman dad/ride-along-kid" vignette on-screen in the film "Avalon" I felt as though I was watching a home-movie! The time period, and Baltimore row houses were PERFECT!
Later, Dad got up before dawn to deliver fresh-baked Italian Rolls from the Amoroso factory. This was his transitional period. I remember riding in the big truck, and learning how HEAVY bread could be!
"I wake the birds up every morning," He said, and it was true!
A changing society saw America's cities burst into flaming Summer "race" riots.
It was a far cry from my "Martha & The Vandellas (female vandals?) 'Dancing in the Streets' growing-up years. I was SO proud that they sang "Philadelphia PA now" in the list of places where folks were "dancin` in the streets!"
Now, even we no longer felt safe in certain areas.
Yo, Philly!
I'm very glad I knew that vanishing, blue collar city of breweries and lunch buckets before the decay of the 70's, and subsequent gentrification, changed my grandparent's red brick city forever.
So today I ate "street food" in the car like we always did.
Dad didn't mind.
I thought of all these memories, and more.
There was even a tear shed.
Though the Hawaiian music station was playing on the radio, I seemed to hear DooWop being sung by some kids on a corner somewhere.
My Dad, the poor kid from the streets of West Philly (neighborhoods, corners, high schools are important)
awoke his most recent mornings in sparkling Waikiki.
"Not bad for two kids from the city!" He'd tell Mom.
Last Fall, we watched the Phillies (complete with Hawaii player Shane Victorino!) win the World Series from Mom & Dad's "beach apartment."
After the bread, he got into the janitorial business.
Many were the exhausted ultra-early morning, or ultra-late at night, rides we took through our sleeping city together, surrounded by our mops, and rags, and keys. I still have a proprietary love of buildings that Kona couldn't satisfy. Luckily, my Honolulu has a gracious crop of many storeys and vintages!
Often we'd stop somewhere to grab a bite to eat, as today. I thought of all those rides as I ate: rides to school, to hospital, "down the shore" and even college visits. There were tense rides, and fun rides.
Winter & Summer; youth and middle age.
Today I had my last ride with Dad;
Bringing his ashes home to Mom
and to Waikiki. . .
A L O H A! Cloudia

25 comments:

the walking man said...

All is as it should be.

Akelamalu said...

Thank goodness for memories of our loved ones. x

rupam sarma said...

Another beautiful post.Thanks : )

ZielonaMila said...

Fantastic post:) Greetings

PerthDailyPhoto said...

Me too Cloudia, happy and sad memories of my Dad, but like you, mostly happy times.. Lovely post..

bea's blog said...

Ah, lovely memory post ✿•❀
it's been almost a year here
since I collected ashes, too.
✿•❀
Beatrice

Willow said...

Cloudia what a beautiful post and so wonderfully descriptive I was right there in your moments and seeing things through your written thoughts . Wonderful insight into some of your life and times with your Dad .Thank you so much for sharing.

foongpc said...

What a beautiful post! Those lovely memories. Enjoyed reading this. Thanks for sharing! : )

TexWisGirl said...

awww. sweetie...

Lady Fi said...

What lovely memories.

Charles Gramlich said...

A great tribute. Great picture of him smiling. I am glad you have such good memories.

Karen S. said...

A warm hug for you dear friend. We give thanks everyday for life, but also for the love and memories that live alive within us, for evermore.

LONDONLULU said...

What a touching post for your father. I too have many memories of mine - he also spent much time cleaning and maintaining buildings and campuses. It is hard work and I've great admiration for all those involved. Beautiful post.

Cloudia said...

Each of you touches my heart powerfully with your wonderful Aloha

:-)

Steffi said...

Fantastic post and great memories to your dad!I have tears in my eyes as I read it!

Robert Geiss said...

It is said, that love does negate time and distance.


黄清华 Wong Ching Wah said...

Looks like a good adventure !

Hilary said...

What a beautiful post you wrote to honour your father. I'm pretty sure I was reading you back in 2009 but I do not remember this lovely tribute. Hugs to you, Cloudia.

Linnea said...

I'm glad you have such happy memories of your dad!

Elephant's Child said...

Tears here. Thank you for sharing these beautiful memories.

wenn said...

beautiful post..aloha

Kay said...

I'm so glad you have these lovely memories to warm your heart, Cloudia.

magiceye said...

That was a beautiful drive down memory lane!

Namaste /\ from Mumbai
Aloha!

Cloudia said...

You are true friends,
and you honor my dad. Thanks very much. Appreciate your visits

Betty Manousos said...

now i am all teary eyed!
thank you for sharing these lovely memories!


aloha!
xoxo