I remember the four words that made my heart sink, my stomach turn, my breathing shallow, and my world turn into a nightmare. Four words that sent me down the hall screaming, that kept me awake for two days straight, made me pray for hours on end that this all wasn't true, that there was a case of mistaken identity. Those four words were, "There's been an accident".
I remember talking to my dad the night before. I remember him telling me that he had to go to Keensburg. When I asked him where that was, he said, "BFE". I remember him laughing about how he was doing burn outs in his '89 Ford F-250 in the shop that night because someone had spilled gear oil. I remember that weekend; I had my baby shower. How he initiated a cake fight, and it turned into a water fight. How bad it started to rain at the end of the night. How he drove us home securely through the downpour that washed the land clean.
My favorite memory of my dad is when he was offered to make some extra money by taking his '89 Kenworth to Iowa (24-hour drive). I talked to him all night to keep him awake. I read the map for him. Then on the way back he let me drive. I slid into the driver's seat, looking into the mirrors for cars. We were on a desolate part of I-76 in Northeast Colorado. We thought that the rig topped out at 73 mph. He told me I was a natural. Of course I was, it's what I'd been around for 4 years by then. I remember him coming home one night later on that week and telling me that the engine was not governored. So my first experience driving a tractor-trailer rig wide open on I-76 with him as co-pilot (by the way, on that stretch of highway, the speed limit is 80 mph).
My dad taught me a lot. A lot about life, a lot about myself. He taught me how to rebuild an engine and replace my flywheel in my truck. He taught me how to drive a stick. He taught me how to power brake and do burn outs. He taught me how to play quarters, and I'm still proud to this day that I beat him. He taught me what really matters, and it isn't money. He taught me how to be myself as I was a teenager looking for identity. He taught me that if you over come your fears, you'll probably have a really funny story to tell later on. I think what I'll remember my dad for the most is that he taught me respect. To respect myself, to respect my family for their them, including their faults. To respect guns and authority, respect the gas pedal in a '77 Ford F-150 with a 400 under the hood, RV cam, and 4-barrel Edlebrok, and a 1 ton transmission 4 speed. I love that truck. Respect blue-collar workers, as they work twice as hard for their money. Respect everyone's opinion, and then tell everyone yours without shame. To love with all your heart. To do whatever it takes in whatever you do. To hold someone that is crying a little closer, to make someone laugh a little harder.
I miss him everyday. I miss him for me and for my son. My son, Cole, entered this world August 3rd, 15 days after my dad's accident. I promised myself that Cole will know who his grandpa was, what he meant to me, and why we love him as much as we do. I have a strong commitment to the industry to make it safer. Maybe my dad died for a reason, I don't know. But I know that I've lost a lot, but I still have a lot to give.
Written By Christine Nara
Published by ConcretePumping.com