Cars and Shoes

He used to pick me up in his car, a beat up Honda Civic. Low to the ground, he would barely brake as he sped around each corner. I’m not sure if he knew how strange he looked. A large man in such a small car. He would pull up outside my friend’s house and linger outside by the Civic, barefoot and dressed in stained shorts and a polo shirt. He never wore shoes on errands. He picked me up barefoot from parties, sleepovers and barbecues. It was either this, or a full suit, even on the weekend. When I was eleven, he picked me up from a pool party wearing a tie and shining black brogues. I looked up at him from the edge of the pool and refused to get out with a giggle. He half-heartedly tried to convince me before jumping into the pool himself, roaring loudly. The parents standing by stared as he walked up the pool steps into the summer air, fully clothed. Only now remembering his phone had been in his pocket. I scampered out of the pool behind him and laughed at how lucky it felt to be the daughter of the man in the chlorine soaked suit.

            My father is wheeled away from me and waves. I am twenty-one, standing with my partner at the hospital. I arrive before the surgery, just long enough to catch a glimpse of him. White hair and a white paper robe. Bed sheets tucked high modestly. He looks older than I remember him being, and my mother tells me it will be a few hours’ wait. We sit with his twin sister in the cafeteria and she tells us about her farm, the property she is building herself. It’s a house, my father has told me, that she has wanted ever since she left the family farm as a child to go to boarding school. I catch pieces of what she’s saying but think back to my father and the bed wheeling away. He was at home hours before, groaning and shouting through the pain. I feebly brought him Neurofen and water. His sister drove him to the hospital. I couldn’t drive a manual. He waited outside our house for her, barefoot. I ran out with his shoes, black brogues and grey socks. I looked up at his pale face and pressed the shoes into his hands but he refused them as he got into the car.