This morning I’ve been thinking about my Dad. I don’t know why especially today. When I think of my Mom, my Dad was so much the opposite. She was quiet and shy, he was gregarious. She was perfectly happy sitting at home and reading books like her (and our family’s) beloved Louis L’Amour. He was a social animal. After retirement, he was always out at an Optimist Club meeting or getting together weekly with a group of retired educators who called themselves, The Old Codgers. You had to listen closely for her sense of humor, he was a presenter who made people laugh. I have inherited my irreverent sense of humor from him. Mom was usually quite directive about what she thought I should do. Dad was the great listener, and I would go to him for advice often, perhaps even more often as the years went by.
As I was remembering Dad this morning, who passed several years ago, I remembered a piece about him I wrote a few years ago, about him teaching me to ride a bike. Here it is.
I love and miss you Pop.
Learning to Ride
(from The Manager As Motivator, Michael Kroth, 2006)
If memory serves after all these years, it was a fall day and it
seems an overcast Kansas sky and a street strewn with leaves
set the stage. What I do remember clearly is sitting on my
new, red, shining Schwinn bicycle. I was terrified, but
learning to ride a bike was a boyhood skill that was way
beyond motivating – it was life or death.
I didn’t need a mission statement or a performance review to
risk scrapes and shame. Every pal I had was already riding
his bike. I sat there shaking, tears close to the surface, with
my jeans cuffed up at the bottom (a habit that one future day
saw me spattered all over the cement, tangled in the chain,
but for now was of little concern).
My dad had his hand on the seat and told me I could do this.
He said exactly what to do – keep the wheels straight and
don’t stop pedaling.
“I can’t!” I cried.
“Yes, you can,” he said. “Let’s just go a little way.”
As I slowly started pedaling he moved with me, hand on seat, and told me again I could do it – “Yes, you’re doing great! – keep pedaling!”
I realized as I pedaled somewhere down that narrow lane that my dad had let go and I was on my own. I got to the end of the road, put my brakes on, and stopped. I scooted my bike around.
“Good job!” and a thumbs-up from down the street. I pushed off and rode back to meet him.