My earliest memories of being with my dad were in Phoenix, Arizona in the driveway of our house on Butler Ave. I remember the joy of spraying the hose and the smell of Turtle Wax. My dad loved his car and took pride in caring for it himself. I learned how to take pride in owning as well as the responsibility of ownership; but mostly I enjoyed being with my dad. It didn’t seem like a chore rather an opportunity. The task was not an obligation but it was a gift.
I don’t use a car wash service to this day. I feel the pang of guilt if I pay to have my car washed at a drive-by that will never do it ‘right’ in the first place. I still wash my own and I still take pride in the doing of it. I often invite my kids to wash the car with me; and while I don’t get the sense they have the same reverie in the task, I can hope that they will look back and warmly remember the time spent.
Over Christmas my daughter was home from college and she rather sweetly, and I think knowingly, asked, “Daddy, will you help me wash my car?” The car doesn’t wash itself, even at the full service car wash; but if someone else is doing it you have given away the lesson, the memory, the journey…the gift.