My dad was a huge fan of Nascar. I remember as a kid the house would be booming with the sounds of engines roaring and my dad rooting for his favorite driver: Dale Earnhardt, the number three race car. I remember my dad getting so excited everytime Dale would win a race. He was my dad’s hero and he was also mine.
We were both devastated when on February 18, 2001 Dale was involved in an accident and lost his life. Watching Nascar wasn’t the same after that day. I remember as a child my father was deeply wounded by his death. There were days where he didn’t talk at all. As a child I took his silence to heart and wondered what I could do to help him. Now as an adult I realize there was nothing I could do to help my father heal from his sadness. I also realize that my coping skills as a child were always centered around others I cared about instead of focusing on how I could fix myself. This has caused a lot of adulting problems in my life now that I’m currently working through.
I wish my dad were here to help guide me.
I wonder what he would say to me. I think he would be proud of me and tell me that I need to trust myself and not to worry so much about what comes next. He would tell me to talk to my mom and hang out with her because he knows that will help me feel better too. I think he would tell me now to make the same mistakes he did.
My dad carried a lot of trauma and hurt inside him. He fought in Vietnam and never spoke a word of it. He lost his mother and father months apart from each other. His life was work. My dad dedicated his life to taking care of my mother, brother and I. As a child I never understood how hard he worked and what he sacrificed for us. Now as an adult I can’t say how grateful I am for my father’s hard work. Without his help I wouldn’t have been able to go to college debt free. I wouldn’t have had my first car or a roof over my head.
I carry this rose quartz stone in my pocket that reminds me of my dad. I remember the day of his funeral I snuck one in his left pocket, the same pocket I keep mine in. The preacher that was selected to do my dad’s service did a horrible job. He didn’t talk about my dad at all. He was only concerned about telling his story. Looking back now I wish I would have spoken up. I wish I would have spoken up for my dad’s sake and for all his brother’s and his sister who wept during his speech. If it were me I would have spoken about the people’s lives he had touched and all the amazing things he did when we were kids. I would tell of the adventures we all had as kids and how much fun we had. I would tell of how Nascar inspired him. I would tell of how hardworking he was. I would tell of how funny and kind he was to everyone he met.
I miss my dad every single day. I wish I could go back in time and sit next to my dad on the couch with a beer as we watch Nascar. To go back to the house that rumbled because the volume was up so loud and everytime the cars would make a lap it was like we were there. I like to imagine wherever my dad is he’s at the stadium with a cold Budlight watching Dale zoom around and around endlessly. I hope wherever he is he’s at peace and he’s with his family.
My dad’s death was a tragedy and so was Dale’s. They were both taken too soon. I hope wherever you are you find peace and happiness. I hope you celebrate life and remember how temporary it is. I hope you cherish the moments you have with the ones you love because you never know when it’ll be too late.