I’m sure my father never thought twice about the plywood he delivered to my junior high school that day; but I remember it on occasion, especially on days like this when I think I haven’t accomplished nearly what I set out to do.
In fact, today was one of those the whole damn day was shot days as Daddy used to call them, walking into the kitchen to reach for the wine bottle and a glass from the cupboard. This announcement was normally followed by a string of the what went wrongs: the pattern that arrived was the incorrect color; one of the guys had a flat tire and was two hours late getting to the job site; or somebody forgot about a medical appt. and didn’t show up; or any variation on a theme that might affect a small floor covering business.
Daddy had heard me say that our eighth grade class was pricing wood for the showcase. That’s all he remembered. Before the pricing had even begun, I was called out of a morning class and asked to see my science teacher. I arrived there and, to my great surprise, was told that my father had just dropped off two large sheets of 4 x 8 three-quarter inch plywood; my teacher had been in class, so he missed seeing Daddy, but was informed by a memo that we now owned had two large sheets of plywood-what did he want to do with them? Mr. L., my science teacher, was especially appreciative that Daddy had donated the wood sheets; so he asked me to please make sure to thank my father for the donated sheets.
I was on cloud nine that day…couldn’t believe that Daddy had taken time from his busy, time-sensitive schedule to drive by the school and deliver the plywood sheets. My father worked. He owned his own business. He was a no-nonsense guy when it came to serving the public. My father was an honest laborer, who made sure that the customer came first; normally, that meant that the family’s wishes were secondary. Without his “hustling” as Mom called it, we’d have had no income. Neither Winnie nor I were allowed to chat on the phone for anymore than ten minutes tops. Our home phone was an extension of our family business, so God help the daughter who dawdled and prevented a possible customer from reaching our home!!!
Daddy understood time was money, so made sure we understood it as well. That day, I realized he had spent an hour traveling from his shop to my school, then making sure the plywood sheets were delivered to the right classroom (I still marvel that he even knew how to find the administrative office!!!)
I would never completely understand all the nuances or the actual costs involved, but I would always remember: I was important enough for my father to make sure our class had the material to build the showcase for our science project. There was no describing that emotion; even today, I “tear up” at the thought that my father, the man I saw as normally too focused on making a living to even tune in to his kids’ school projects, would attempt such an extracurricular delivery; especially during a work day. But it remains one of my very precious memories.
Perhaps, with any luck at all, I might have touched someone’s heart today…and the day wasn’t a complete loss. I should be so fortunate…