My father worked for the same company for 41 years. When he retired in 2012, we worried that he would feel as if he lost his identity. The company had become a part of who he was for all of those years. And then, he retired.
Prior to his retirement, however, my husband and I sought to make one of his dreams come true. You see, tucked away in one of his sheds for 30 years was a 1957 Chevy Bel-air two door hard top. It didn’t seem to have much life in it when looking at the rust that started showing through along with the chipped black paint, but we knew it had great potential. My dad struggled with whether to sell it several times through the years, but each time he held on to the dream of “one day” fixing it up. As the years rolled by, he resolved himself to just look out at what once was and what might not ever be again as he didn’t feel he had the money necessary to restore it. That’s where my husband and I came in. We set out on a mission to bring this classic back to life.
My dad was extremely humbled by our offer, and we could tell it touched a place deep within his soul at the mere thought that his dream was about to become a reality. I’ll never forget the day we watched as the rollback scooped my dad’s car up and started down the driveway. We were excited of what was to be!
Fast forward two years, and this once black, often used as a drag car on dirt roads around our house, “rust bucket” was transformed into a candy apple red beauty with sparkling chrome! My dad’s face lit up like a kid in a candy store when he first saw his “old hunk of junk,” as my mom used to call it. He was so nervous to get behind the wheel because he didn’t want anything to happen to his baby! I was there snapping pictures and proud to be a part of that day! When he drove away, he goosed it and snatched second gear so the tires would squeal, just like a little boy playing with his new toy! I laughed and carried that giddy schoolgirl feeling with me all day!
Shortly thereafter, my dad and I learned of a classic car club in town. We were invited to a few meetings, and then our family joined the club. He’s entered several car shows and received trophies and plaques! After several years of being active in the club, my dad was voted in as the president of the Edisto Cruisers! Now not only did his dream become a reality, but it far exceeded his expectations! He’s living his dream and then some!
AND … he drove this beauty on his last day of work when he retired! It was also at his retirement party that we threw for him, as well.
My dad has really come out of his shell since joining and putting himself out there with this car club. When once he would shy away from others and sit in a corner to himself, (and we’d join him so he wouldn’t be alone), he has since become more outgoing. In his current role as President, it has forced him out of his comfort zone, which is not always a bad thing at all. While he’s not really a people person, he is more social than he has ever been before. Public speaking might not be his heart’s desire, but he does a good job of leading the monthly meetings. It seems my dad has had a transformation in all of this, too!
As my dad has gotten older, and after losing several loved ones, he’s become more spiritual as well. I’ve purposely chosen not to say “religious,” as what he has is deeper than that. He reads his bible and prays genuine heartfelt prayers to our Heavenly Father. He prays with passion and conviction, whether on his knees beside his bed at night or before the meal at the monthly car club meetings. I’m proud of him finding his voice and not being bashful with his prayers, especially. He’s often called on to pray at our house before the meals as well. I love that man! And yes, I’ve always been a daddy’s girl. I love my mama, don’t get me wrong. But there’s just a special connection between my father and I.
When once we worried about my dad upon his retirement, we’ve seen him flourish in his new role. We are so proud of him and thankful that he has a passion for classic cars, but most of all, he’s enjoying sporting around in ‘Ole Red after all these years.