It was 1979 and only four girls made it to the T-ball championship game at Penmar Park, in Venice, California. The game was slated to start at 4pm on Sunday. Our family was on a backpacking trip with friends the week before the game.
For some reason, the rest of the group left the trip a day early, so the last day and night my father and I got to experience the wilderness by ourselves. We spent the day scampering up a rock face that also served as a flat waterfall. There were areas so slick that a slip would have ensured a fall at least 6o feet, but we never fell. My dad leapt over the slippery areas like a deer and I followed, his fawn. We lunched atop this natural oasis, made our way down to the bottom and then began the long hike out of the backpacking area.
We walked along a flat footpath and night fell. I held my father’s hand tightly as darkness enveloped the rocks and trees that surrounded us. We walked only by the dim light of the moon until we reached rushing water again. This was the stream that marked the end of our journey as the parking lot was on the other side of a footbridge over this water.
Our 1964 red dodge dart was only a couple of hundred feet away, but we could not find the footbridge in the darkness. “Not to worry, Jess,” my dad reassured me. We would set up our tent one last time, sleep by the stream and in the morning light we’d be able to cross the bridge, get in our car and hightail it back to Los Angeles in time for the champion game.
We set up our 2-man tent and fell asleep instantaneously. As daylight always reveals night’s mysteries to campers, the bridge was only a stone’s throw away from where we slept. We gathered our things and got into the car, knowing it would be tight, but confident we’d make it in time…until my dad started the engine and the car was dead. My jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe it. I had never considered missing the game an option.
My dad encouraged me not to give up faith yet. A tow truck delivered our dodge dart to the local fix-it shop and we sat in greasy chairs awaiting the prognosis. At last the mechanic in a blue jumpsuit with a wrench in one hand came into the office to tell us that yes, he could fix it, but it wouldn’t be ready until the end of the day.
My heart sank. I was devastated. But my dad remained calm. He comforted me by hearing my emotions with out trying to change the way I felt. An then, he simply walked into our new reality with a compassionate heart, open mind and a natural enthusiasm for life.
He bought a box of cookies from the gas station, grabbed a blanket and my boom box from the front seat and we crossed the street to a local school yard. We sat on the blanket, eating cookies and listening to Pat Benetar on my cassette deck for hours.
The day of the missed T-ball championship game was one of the most peaceful and memorable days of my childhood. Even though I missed the game, I had won the best prize of all, a true friendship with my father.
Happy Father’s Day.
About Jessica Williams
Jessica Williams created L.O.V.E. Parenting with a series of techniques for effective communication, deepened connection and more joy in parenting and life. Jessica is also the creator of www.UltimateParentingCourse.com with the best of today's progressive parenting experts together in one program. Jessica is a featured expert internationally on both Mothering.com’s Ask An Expert and the upcoming www.KidsInTheHouse.com. Jessica is a regular contributor to Mothering Magazine’s All Things Mothering, LA Parent Magazine, LA Mom Magazine & DailyBuzzMoms. She has been interviewed on television and radio and taught workshops at family wellness centers, schools and doctor’s offices. Her BirthKit has helped women have a transformational & empowering birth. Jessica maintains a private coaching practice in her native Los Angeles where she lives with her husband and their three children. “Truly amazing woman. I love her advice.”—Carrie-Anne Moss. “All you have shared has helped tremendously.”—Lisa Bonet. “I am experiencing nothing short of a miracle thanks to your laser beam approach.” –Andrea Bendewald.