Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Sweet Memories

This is a short story about a little girl and the love she has for her father.

As the young woman drove home from a busy day at the community college, she drove past the bicycle shop that always made her swell up with emotion whenever she saw it, or even thought of it.  It took her to another time and place.  It was a magical shop that did more than sell bikes; it created happy memories.  

It was a long time ago, when another young woman holding the hand of a little girl in blonde pigtails, walked through the door of the bicycle shop, making the bell ring above their heads.  The shopkeeper came up to the young woman asking if there was anything he could help her with.   The woman said no, but the little girl spoke up saying, “We’re moving to Texas and my Daddy says I can have anything I want from this store.  

The man smiled and replied, “Please, look around and let me know if I can be any assistance.

The young girl walked around the shop checking out all the bikes and big wheels as if they were military soldiers lined up for their morning inspection.  The little girl was growing disappointed she could not find anything she liked enough to want.   She turned to her mommy and said, “I don’t see anything I like.

As the little girl and her mom was about to leave, the little girl looked up on the wall and there it was, the most beautiful big wheel the little girl ever saw: a strawberry shortcake big wheel.  The little girl pulled her hand from her mom’s hand and ran over until she was standing below the big wheel and says, “ That’s it Mommy! I want that one! 

The little girl’s mommy replied saying, “Okay, let’s go home and tell Daddy.  

Well, the little girl and the young woman went home to tell the little girl’s father.  Time went by, and the little family moved to Texas, and there was still no Strawberry Shortcake big wheel for the little girl to ride.  The little girl was disappointed, but she knew better than to bother her father about his promise.

Then one day her father went back to Cleveland.  The little girl did not know why he had to go back to Cleveland without her and her mother, because they did not tell her why.  The little girl counted the days down until her father came back home.  She missed her daddy terribly.   Finally, after constantly asking her mom everyday when her father was coming home, he pulled up to their apartment with the object of the little girl’s desires tied to the back of his motorcycle.

Daddy!  Daddy!” she cries out.  You got it.  The little girl’s father replies as he untied the big wheel, “You’re Daddy’s little girl.  I said I would get it for you and I meant it.  You still want it, don’t you?  The little girl jumped with joy, saying, “Yes!  

As the little girl climbed onto her strawberry shortcake big wheel, she told her daddy, “You’re the bestest Daddy in the world.  The little girl did not know it then, but she would learn when she is much older that she almost did not get the big wheel.  The shopkeeper did not want to sell the big wheel, claiming it was his last one and was for display only.  The little girl’s daddy had to persuade the store owner into selling the big wheel.  Just as the little girl did not know that she almost did not get the big wheel that day, she did not know that day and that big wheel will end up being one of her fondest memories.

The little girl loved that big wheel.  She would ride it up and down the apartment complex’s sidewalk until she wore the wheels out, and one day she found it missing from the apartment’s patio.  She ran to her father to ask him where it was.  Her father said to her, “I had to throw it in the dumpster.  Bees had made a home in the wheels.  

Although the little girl knew she could not ride around with bees in her tires, she was saddened over the loss of her beloved big wheel.  She went to her room and cried most of the day.
Later that day, her father came into her room and asked why she was still crying.  The little girl said she wanted her big wheel.  He father replied by saying that he was sorry, but he could not get rid of the bees.  The little girl replied, “I know Daddy.  I just love it so much.” 

 The father replied, with a smile, “I know.  Everyone could tell by the way you’re burning rubber up and down the sidewalk.  

The little girl giggled.  

The father, who is always willing to do anything to make his little girl happy then said, “Wipe those tears away, and go wash up.  We’re going to the store.  

The little girl wiping her eyes asked, “Why we going to the store?  

The father smiling said, “You always have to know why, don’t you?  Well, you’re a big girl now, so we are going to get you a two-wheeler.  

But Daddy I don’t know how to ride a two-wheeler,” said the little girl with an air of having more intelligence than a five year old actually has. 

Her father laughing said, “I know that.  I am going to teach you how.” 

When they arrived at the store the little family made a bee line for the bicycle department.  In the bicycle department the little girl carried her inspection as she did at the bicycle store up in her hometown of Ohio, walking up and down and around the bicycles.  

As she carried on her serious inspection, she overheard her father ask her mom, “Was she this long when you were picking out that big wheel?

Yes. Just be patient, you know everything has to be just right with her. She gets that from you,” replied her mom.

Then the little girl saw it.  It seemed to be peeking out at her.  It was sky blue and the banana seat had clouds on it. Down on the chain cover it had more clouds painted on it, but it also had its name painted on it: Blue Angel.  She looked up and around to see if there was another one just like it, but she already knew there wasn’t, she just needed confirmation.  

Is it possible? Did the bike come from Heaven just for her?  Did God know her daddy was going to buy her a bike today and sent one just for her?  Mommy always said God knows everything and has powers to do things like send gifts.  So is it possible? Was this bike meant just for her? Yes, it was.  She knew this was the bike she had to have. 

 Daddy, this is the one I want,” the little girl said.

Are you sure, this is the one you want?”

Yes, Daddy, I’m sure.

Okay then, get on and let’s try it out.  I’ll hold it so you don’t fall.  

The little girl got on the bike with help from her father, and he told her to pedal and steer. They went around the aisle and back towards where her mom was standing.  Her mom was smiling as her dad brought the bike to a stop in front of her.  

So do you like it?” The father asked the little girl.  

Yes!  It was fun Daddy.  Can we do it again?

Later. When we get home.  It looks like I have to lower the seat so your feet can touch the ground,” the little girl’s father said, and then he used his foot to put the kick stand down. He picked his daughter up off the bike and set her on the ground.  He told her to go with her mom as he took the bike, and the little family went to check out her Blue Angel.

For the next few days, her father was good as his word and practiced with her every day after he got home from work and before dinner.  She was doing well too; she just had a problem with the brakes; she wasn’t getting the grasp on them.  She couldn’t understand why if she stopped pedaling why the bike didn’t stop.  

Then there was the fact she would topple over when she did finally slow down.  Her father never lost his patience. If his patience was wearing thin, he never let the little girl know.

One day, they were practicing and he let her go. She was riding very well and her father even said she was.  Her excitement turned to panic when she realized she was heading straight for a parked car and forgot how to steer, so she stopped pedaling.  

Her father yelled, “Put on your brakes!  

With fear in her voice, the little girl yelled back, “I did!”  

Then bang!  It was unavoidable.  The little girl rode right into the parked car. She bounced right off her seat and right onto the bar of the bike, hard.  Her father ran up to her and helped her off her bike. 

With tears in her eyes the little girl said, “I am sorry Daddy.” 

He just asked, “Are you okay? Did you hurt yourself?  

The little girl may have been worried that her father would be mad at her, but all he was concerned about was his little baby girl, with tears streaming down her face. Was she hurt?
 Yes, I fell on the bar and it hurt down there.” 

You’ll be okay. Tell Mommy when we get home.” He took a quick look at the bumper of the car, running his hand over it, and then grabbed the bike with one hand and the little girl’s hand with the other, saying, “Let’s go.  You’ll never get your driver license like this.  The little girl just smiled; she was happy. She knew her father was not mad at her so all was right with the world.

Remembering the little girl back then, the young woman smiled as she pulled into her driveway back in Ohio.  The little girl had eventually learned how to use the brakes on that bike, and had grown up to eventually get her driver’s license.  As her father taught her how to ride a bike, he taught her how to drive.  The young woman may never have had training wheels on her bike when she was a little girl, but her father was always her ‘training wheels’ in life.  Now those ‘training wheels’ have been removed with the passing of her father, but she can still hear her father saying, “You can do it. You’re doing good.” and “Keep up the good work.” 

*written 11/27/2008 

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