We weren’t stupidly well off when we were kids.
We weren’t even intelligently well off.
Mind you I don’t really know for certain how well we did do, given that household fiscal obligations aren’t generally a cause of concern for children.
But we did manage to live as a single income family for most of my life so I suppose things weren’t that bad.
But I do know that my dad worked his ass off.
I could tell because even though he tried, he wasn’t always there. He was around often enough, but retail isn’t conducive to an active family life being that everything family related tends to happen on weekends. Those two days that are most important in retail.
My dad took his job very seriously and he was very bloody good at it.
So we had what kept us comfy and happy and that’s about it. My mother and father always made sure that we boys never went without. Even if it was at their own expense. Because that’s what you do for your kids.
Mind you, being a kid I never really knew or cared about things that my parents may have wanted for themselves.
They were the adults, they had the money and they could just go and get whatever they wanted right?
I never really grasped the concept that maybe my parents would want something for themselves that doesn’t have anything to do with us boys. Maybe they wanted something just for them to enjoy, not something for the family.
One night I remember watching TV with dad and a commercial for a local mechanic came on. They specialised in old school Aussie muscle cars. And from memory, there was an orange Holden HQ Monaro, and a green Ford XA GT in this commercial.
His eyes just lit up, they sparkled, I think I felt drool splatter on my head. The first time the ad came on and every time since he’d make a comment about how one day he’d love to own one of those Ford GT coupes. It was his dream car by the sounds of things.
I don’t recall much about my grandfather but he was a Ford man through and through, and my family on my dad’s side has several dedicated gear heads in the mix. They’re a family of car lovers and I guess that’s where my love of them stems from.
You can’t escape genetics.
Shortly after he moved out, my dad started making money to making good money. In a few short years it appeared that he was making great money. I say appeared because I didn’t really like hanging out at his place. Or, to be honest, with him. I was a petulant and confused teenager and if I could time travel I’d kick my own ass and march me to his door step but what are you going to do?
His company cars soon switched from Holden commodores to European saloons. He’d keep them updated regularly and he simply loved these sleek modern luxury vehicles.
And I was happy for him but I never understood why he didn’t just go out and buy that dream car he always wanted. He clearly had the money lying around. But the way he talked about these cars that he owned it was obvious that his dream had changed. Or maybe he had settled.
But it turns out the sneaky bastard actually did end up buying the car. And he never told me.
He made a comment in passing about ‘The coupe’ during one of our bi-monthly phone calls (I lived interstate at the time) and I pressed him for an answer.
His voice sounded just like it did when I was a kid (albeit with a slight slur to his speech) as he explained the beauty of the beast to me.
A 1971 Ford XA GT Coupe in black.
Just like he always wanted.
After he beat the cancer for the first time a friend of his told him that he had to go and buy himself a present to make sure he’d never forget winning that fight. Like having your life ahead of you wasn’t reminder enough.
In classic fashion, he went all out.
A customer of his came to see him one day, explaining that he had to regretfully sell his old Ford because he’d just imported a new Mustang and didn’t have the room in the garage for the old girl.
‘Jake,’ he said ‘the second silliest thing I ever did was go and have a look at it and the silliest was taking it for a drive because I got the cheque book out straight after.’
Of all the Audi’s and Mercedes that he’d owned, I’d never heard him talk with such reverence and passion as when he spoke of that car. He’d finally gone and got that one toy he’d always dreamed of. For as long as I could remember anyway.
It was a long while before I got to see her in person, and when I did she did not disappoint.
The stock XA GT had a 351ci Cleveland V8 motor in it. Ample grunt for such a machine.
But this Frankensteins monster sported an aftermarket 427ci big block Mustang engine.
To put it into context, most old cars, when you pop the bonnet you can literally climb into the engine bay WITH the motor to check on it. This fucker took up every square centimetre of space under the hood to the point that the battery had to be stored in the boot!
And the fucking sounds she made!
When you put your foot down it was if you had cleaved a fracture in the crust of the earth and summoned forth a furiously vengeful volcano that was at your very command.
She gave you a rumble in your chest that made you unsure if you were falling in love or if your heart was just going to explode through your ribs.
I could talk about the car for hours and I still wouldn’t come close to doing it justice.
And, to my disappointment, I only ever had the opportunity to drive it twice. The first time was when I gave him a ride into town for his chemo because he was too weak to handle her anymore.
The second time was driving back to his place with my younger brother after his funeral.
I’ve seen her a few times since, but I’ve been far too terrified to even ask if I can get behind the wheel. My fucking hand shakes each time I pull back the now permanent fixture of a dust cover on her.
I’m a grown man, I’m a father now too. There is little in my life that I fear outside of things that could happen to my wife or child. And for my entire adult life I never needed or asked for my dads help with anything because I’m a stubborn fucking fool.
But I don’t think I could ever again in my life even try and start that car without him sitting next to me telling me what to do because I’m too fucking scared of hurting her.
That car was easily the cheapest vehicle he had bought in the last decade.
And she was the one that he treated with the most loving care and attention.
It is true what they say. The true value of an item has absolutely nothing to do with the monetary value.
And when it comes time to move on, you will always have your heart broken.
Because you will never, ever in your life, get what you want for it.
Happy fathers day to all the dads out there.
To all that dads that aren’t here anymore.
To all the stand in dads.
To all the father in-laws.
To all the almost dads.
And this has nothing to do with anything in my life but a massive shout out to all the dads out there that are fighting tooth and nail to see their kids again because of the bullshit way the custody system works.
Chin up men.
Sorry I wasn’t funny this time.
The previous was from memory faded at the edges by time, rage and alcohol so sorry if anything doesn’t seem factually correct.