Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lessons Learned

When I was 17 I got into an accident. I was leaving the Camp Arnes pool parking lot in my 77 Nova and I backed up into a car - an old Tempo if I remember correctly. I panicked. My brother was with me and in that moment of hesitation he gave me his sage-like advice: "Drive man, Drive!!" So I took off, hoping that no damage had been done to the other vehicle. When we got home I looked at the back of the Nova. Nothing, not a scratch. Maybe I hadn't hit the other vehicle very badly and maybe there wasn't any damage? I slept uneasily that night.

The next day in school I tried to forget about what had happened but when a guy came up to me and said "I heard about what happened at Arnes" I knew I was sunk. Summoning all of my courage I drove down to the Gimli police station. Nervously I introduced myself and said I wanted to report an accident. "What's your name?" said the police officer. When I told him he said "Ah, we were just about to come looking for you." Yikes, they police were coming to look for me! Basically at that point I broke down, confessed my sins, and begged for forgiveness. Then I had to tell my parents.

My mom was fairly compassionate but my Dad seemed to almost get glee from the whole situation. "You'll have to face the music son," he said. "You have to get pay the consequences for your actions." Luckily because I had turned myself in just before 24 hours had passed since I had fled the scene, the police could only charge me with failing to exchange particulars. But I still had to go to court. My Dad was happy to take me. I remember on the way there him trying to prepare me for what I would face. He seemed to think that this was going to be one of those great life lessons that hurts but turns out for the best. Little did he know how right he would be.

We drove to Selkirk where the court was but parking was a bit of an issue. Dad looked for parking by the mall, and I went inside. I presented the papers I had to the admin person and they gave me outstanding news: the RCMP at Gimli had been impressed by my repentance, humility, and honesty and recommended to the court that all charges be dropped. The court agreed and I got off scot free. Freeeeeedom!! I rushed outside to tell my Dad the good news.

Unbeknownst to me Dad was having his own adventures outside. Apparently the place he had parked in was a place he was not allowed to park. A parking guard came by and ticketed the truck. Dad had then tried to talk to the parking guard who told him that the law was the law and he'd have to pay the fine. I'm not exactly sure what my Dad said in return but I do know that there was much anger and unkind words were spoken. When I came out less then five minutes immediately after this and Dad realized first that he hadn't even needed to park he was testy. When he heard that I got off with only a warning that made him even more upset - he had wanted me to learn a lesson (I hadn't) and he had gotten a ticket for nothing. I was supposed to pay for my transgression but instead now he was the one paying a fine! And he had "lost it" on another person and had to admit it to his son. He wasn't having a stellar day.

With my Dad in a bit of foul mood, we went into the mall to a restaurant to get something to eat. As soon as we sat down my Dad suddenly looked terrible. "What's wrong?" I asked. "It's that parking guard, he's eating a few tables over." My Dad struggled for a minute or two and then got up. He paused, took a deep breath, and then went over to the parking guard and appologized for his earlier behavior. Then he sat down, we finished our meal in thoughtful silence, and headed home.

When I got home I very much enjoyed telling the story to my Mom and have several times reminded my Dad of that fateful day. In fact, it's one of my favorite "Dad" stories to tell. Lessons were learnt. I learned what mercy, real mercy was. I messed up and instead of having to pay the price was given mercy instead. I never forgot how that felt and to this day I want to give that feeling to others.

My Dad too learned a lesson. Sometimes you are so fixated on seeing someone else "learn a lesson" that you don't realize that you are about to learn one yourself - so watch out! My Dad thought he had been a terrible example of a father to me, but he didn't realize (at first at least) that this was one of the best examples he ever was to me. After making a fool of himself by losing it on someone he swallowed his pride and did the right thing - he humbled himself and appologized. And that was the lesson I learned - if you mess up you need to humble yourself and admit it, asking for forgiveness. It's the right thing to do, the manly thing to do. It was hard, but he did it anyway. I was proud of my Dad that day, in fact I'm still proud of him. All of us make mistakes sometimes, but not all of us will admit it and say we're sorry. My Dad did. And for that I love and admire him. Thanks Dad for such a great lesson on how to be a man. I'll never forget it.


Elayne said...

I was just talking to a female friend this morning about what "manly" means. You hit the nail on the head with that story! Some see humility as a weakness but in reality it is a tremendous strength. Your Dad is definitely a manly man! What a great example and life lesson for you that day!

Lifelines said...

What a great story! I'll have to share that one with my kids.

Lindsay said...

What an incredible story.