It is a weird thing when a random memory pops into your head. Depending on the memory, all kinds of emotions can come flooding back. I recently had a memory fill my brain. It was something I had forgotten about.
As a child, I pretty much went everywhere with my dad. The shooting range, poker games, biker bars just to name a few interesting places I visited as a youth. I can remember doing my homework on the bar of one of the worst pubs in our area. No one ever bothered me and I got to drink as much Coke as I wanted. I never worried because I knew my dad, even if he was off doing something else, always had eyes on me. I was as safe in a bar as I was in a church pew.
Many times he and I stayed out later than might have been considered prudent for a young girl. Late nights racing cars at the local drag strip or the very late night, aforementioned, poker games meant driving home in the dark of night. This may be hard for young people to understand but back in the seventies am radio (that’s usually what we had in the car, not fm) cut their transmission power by half at nine pm. When this happened you could be listening to a song and then just static. On a really clear night you might be lucky enough to pick up a Detroit station or you were stuck with static.
When I was young, I was deathly afraid of the dark. Not much has really changed on that front over the years. I love my she cave to be dark, but there is just something so uncertain about the great outdoors in the dark. My young mind would come up with all kinds of scary scenarios. I was seriously terrified.
The memory that came back to me had me sitting in the passenger seat of my dad’s car, listening to the radio as the sun started to go down. My head pressed against the passenger side window watching the scenery pass by. Street lights were not that common out in the country. As the sun descended and darkness covered my world I could feel a twinge of fear run up my back. Then the radio would go to static and mix with the hum of the tires as they met the road. The darkness and the noise combined to create a surreal feeling. My world went black and white like an old episode of The Twilight Zone.
I would try to get small so if anything was out there it might not notice me. The darkness also brought cooler temperatures and my breathe would start to fog the car window where my head would lay. I would be transfixed on the warm and safe glows of lights from houses we passed. I longed to be in one of them rather then a sitting duck on a lonely country road. I was genuinely afraid…not just once but whenever I was out at night. Then Dad would roll up our driveway and I knew safety was close now. I would jump out of the car and run as fast as I could into the garage to turn a light on. Once safely inside, I would be so thankful the monsters in my imagination did not get me.
The other day I was driving at night and had the radio on. In the mountains, it is not uncommon to lose radio signals. That’s exactly what happened. The road grew dark, the music disappeared replaced by static and the car grew colder. I got the same chills up my spine that I got as a child. And I started to remember all those nights as a young girl. One thing was different. My very tall, very protective father was not in the car with me. His presence made me feel safe even when disaster could happen at any time. I thought about him that night and I calmed right down. Not to say he was riding shotgun or anything, but I think I remembered those times in order to remember the other component, my father’s presence.
I no longer have my dad by my side but I do have my Holy Father who watches over me. I forget sometimes that even when I feel alone and afraid that my Heavenly Father is close to me. I need to cling to him on those dark nights and I will be okay. Funny how that realization came from a seemingly random childhood memory. I need to remember both my Dad’s and their love for me no matter how dark the night.