My Father Saw Something in Me that I Didn’t, Until I Finally Did
The summer I turned six, I got a royal blue Schwinn bicycle. I’d barely gotten the hang of riding it when my dad decided it was time for me to take my first official bike ride with him. My dad loved riding his bike. I was the oldest of three at that point, eventually the oldest of five, my mom was busy, and he wanted a buddy to ride with.
We lived in a rural town of Pennsylvania at the time. Actually, it wasn’t even a town, it was a township. We lived in a circle of two-story brick houses that all looked pretty much the same.
Those houses no longer exist. But the memories do. Especially this one.
Our house was on a road barely paved, with cinders congregating on the shoulder. My father led the way as we headed out of our circle, not to the left and down the hill where we usually went driving in the car, but to the right, also with a sloping downward hill, albeit not quite as steep and circular as the one to the left.
I was nervous and frightened before we even started, but I dutifully followed my dad as we biked down the slow and steady hill. I stayed to the right, like my dad was telling me to do, but not too far to the right because I wanted to avoid the cinders. I was focused on staying straight and not wobbling, oblivious at first that the hill we were traveling down ended in a T.
By the time I realized that, I was picking up speed and losing what rational thought a six-year-old might have. I was panicking. Maybe it was because I hadn’t been riding a bike long enough for my reflexes to kick in, but let’s just say I froze, losing the ability to rely on my brakes.
My dad, in front of me and completely unaware that I was unraveling, instructed me to turn to the right at the T as he glided easily into his own turn. You could go to the right, or to the left, but not straight ahead where an expansive cornfield loomed tall and wide.
I did not turn, probably a good thing considering the speed at which I was going. It was also probably a good thing that my father had already turned, so I didn’t slam into him. In my state of panic, I zoomed straight into the cornfield, swiftly…