I thought my father was a genius. But I was just a kid. He had all these great ideas that would change the world forever and even after he blew his hands off I believed in him.
We lived in a trailer. A double wide. I had my own room until the explosion and then we were down to a single wide and I slept on the couch in the living room. When we got down to legal road width, we started moving around a lot. To my father, it all came down to fate and he always thought that everything that happened after the propane lawnmower idea went sideways was fine and out of his hands.
My father was a wonderful man in many ways. In others, not so much. He never threw anything away. Well, you could say me, I guess. But he always had his reasons. And they were always good, or at least interesting. If my father were alive today … and for all I know he is … he’d have some kind of scheme and something good to say about everyone.
My father was always good to the dog, even when he couldn’t pet him anymore.
He really loved his wife and she treated him like shit. He never saw it that way, though. He’d just laugh and call her ‘fiery.’ People would just shake their heads.
My father was five-foot-three and his first wife was well over six feet with really big tits. He called her the ‘roof over my head’ but it didn’t last. She was killed in a skating accident involving a drunken Zamboni driver. It shut down the only arena in the area and we moved on again. That’s when we met my new mom. She was beautiful and knew a lawyer and the next thing you know she and my father were married.
Did I tell you that my father was born with a silver spoon in his mouth? They found him on the porch after someone knocked on the door of a house in Bend, Oregon. Naked as a stitch, sucking on that spoon and cooing happily in three below. Whatever was going on even at that early age, he saw it as the start of a great adventure.
My father was never really healthy. But he was always optimistic. God, he just never saw the downside of anything.
One day I came home and there was a taxi in front of the house. The driver was loading a suitcase into the trunk. My father turned to me and put his stumps on my shoulders.
‘Watch for the elephant,’ he said.
I never saw him again.
I would often wonder what amazing ideas he was thinking of. I wondered why he had left. It must have been for a great adventure.
Once my father had gone away, my mom and I stopped moving around so much. I went to school, but I never really made any friends. None of the other kids understood my obsession with elephants. I never told anyone but secretly I began to search for the elephant; always looking for it wherever I went. I had no idea what my father meant, but for some reason it seemed important.
One night I dreamed that I was standing in the middle of a field so big that I couldn’t see people or buildings or trees for miles around. Only the dim light of the sun over the far-off horizon and the fading shape of a city on the edge of the world. I turned around several times and thought ‘well, I guess I’ll have to walk’ and just then the elephant appeared before me. For a long time I stared at him and he stared back at me.
‘Have you seen my hat,’ asked the elephant. He waited for me to answer but I didn’t know what to say so I just looked at him and nodded ‘no’ and he walked away. At breakfast I told my mother about the dream but she didn’t seem to care.
I gave up trying to find the elephant my father had told me to watch for. And then one day I found it.
He did say ‘watch’ and I’d taken that for ‘look’ and maybe that’s why it took so long to discover, but there it was, clear as day. I think my father was trying to say that the things you want will come to you in good time and you don’t have to try so hard to track them down.
Just live your life and you’ll open up spaces for things to fall into place.
It’s a beautiful elephant.
It will give the nurses something to talk about for sure.