One of my father’s catch phrases was “when my ship comes in.” What he really meant to say was “We don’t have the means to afford it now, but one day we will.” Mr. Bud was a Navy man who, after his discharge, worked one job for the rest of his life. He was a mechanic with forearms like Popeye from turning wrenches for a living. When you’re a child you don’t know anything about income, class, or where you rank in the world to those who keep score. You only know if you are loved or not, and I knew I was loved. So, my dad’s comments about his ship coming in always confused me. My ship was already in as far as I was concerned.
Today I took a ride to the home of my brother, Dave, and his wife, Michelle. We celebrated the birthday of my nephew, Chris. I also visited with my family, including my lovely niece, Laura, her husband, Chris, and their one-year-old son, Leo. Leo is a smiling, happy, chubby little man. He has everything a baby needs: a loving, devoted mother and father, the support of doting grandparents, and an extended family that adores him and would do anything for him if asked.
Contemplating While Enjoying the Curves
The ride is a relatively short one, only around an hour and a half, depending on my route. I usually prefer the long way over the Blue Mountains and along Mountain Road and Upper and Lower Smith Gap Road connecting Wind Gap and Palmerton, Pa., a stretch of about 10 miles of isolated road along the base of the mountains. I never see any cars and I’ve always loved the mountains, so the route is blissful and gives me plenty of time alone to think.
As I ride along I think, as I often do, about my father and the stories he used to tell me about his time in the Navy. One story, in particular, I recall was when he and his shipmates cheered for the bulls in Spain (not something acceptable there), which caused them to be chased from the stadium, stealing posters as they ran. These posters proudly hang in my house today some 50 years later.
Love Is Life’s Currency
When I arrive at my brother’s home, he greets me with his usual giant grin. My niece, Laura, tells me she missed me and my mother, Mary, is there with a warm hug. Leo laughs, drools, and lets me chase him around. My sister-in-law, Michelle, taps on the window and waves. I am surrounded by love and laughter. We sit, chat, eat, and tell stories—stories of rides shared, of life shared, and of the ones we’ve lost and miss.
Life’s currency is love as far as I’m concerned. And when I ride, I think of those simple things: a family picnic, a happy baby, stories told, hugs, and “I miss yous.” And I remember dad’s talk of his ship coming in and still don’t quite understand what he meant or why he thought it. I earn a modest living by today’s standards, working for a wonderful company whose founders I consider friends, but I don’t share my father’s whimsical ideas about ships delivering wealth. My wealth is secured. It is the love of my family who accepts me, greets me upon arrival, and wishes me a safe ride as I leave. There is no greater wealth than that in my opinion.
There are those who judge others based on achievement, status, or material possessions, but I’ve neither the time nor the interest to entertain such thoughts. To my mind, they are superficial and shallow. I know my family and friends are my wealth and, by those accounts, I am a rich man. William Butler Yeats wrote, “Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.” I dearly miss my father, but I know that my ship has long since come in. Life’s currency is love. May you be as wealthy as I am. Ride safe.