He didn't have much growing up. His mother was a doctor but she was the kind who took chickens and old books for payment. So my dad did everything he could to make sure his kids had everything a kid was supposed to have. He made major sacrifices to do that--sacrifices that I'm only aware of now that I'm about the age he was at the time. And yes, that thought freaks me out. The thought that I am now how old my father was when he sent me to Kindergarten. I cry a little bit for the kids I'm not sending to kindergarten now and for the realisation of just how young my wise old father really was when I thought he was so old.
My parents decided against Barbie dolls (too sexist and too expensive to accessorise) but agreed that you got a 10-speed bike when you were 10. With four kids there were always those types of rules. Birthday parties every 5 years; pop for dinner with pizza, lasagne and tacos but water for everything else. So 10 was a big year, because I got the bike AND the big party. I don't remember the big party so well, but I remember shopping for the bike. The only thing I was certain of was that I wanted "blue paint, but the kind with sparkles in it."
"That's called a candy-apple finish" my dad said.
And right then, when I was 9, my dad was my hero. He knew what I meant, and knew there was a name for it. And I knew he'd get it for me. Not the bike, but the colour of the bike. He knew that a candy-apple finish meant a lot to me so he was going to get that colour of a bike if it was the last thing he did. Some guys might think "she's getting a bike. Who cares if it's got red matte paint?" Not my dad.
I just now came across the words "candy-apple red" in a book I'm reading, and I was hard-hit by the feeling of safety and love I got from my dad twenty-six years ago when he knew about candy-apple finish and how important sparkles are to little girls.