Friday, December 12, 2014


My oldest daughter likes electronic toys. She may have been the first kid in her class with a smartphone, in part because her father likes electronic toys and I had an iPhone to hand down. Soon, she got a new iPhone, then another, and this year, tired of iPhones she got a brand new, customized Moto X for her birthday and Bat Mitzvah. She loves it.

Which is why she was upset today when she tripped at school and shattered it.

She is careful with her devices, going years without a scratch on any of them. This was not the usual careless-kid thing. Instead, it’s the usual accidents-happen thing and she wasn’t hurt. Phones can be fixed or replaced, so no problem except she was scared to tell me what had happened.


As a kid, I crashed my parents car on 81 North in a snowstorm. I spun it and slammed backward into a guardrail, crumpling the passenger’s side and ripping the front bumper off destroying the driver’s side front fender. I was nineteen and off to visit a friend. Dad had lent the car despite the weather and despite it being the lead car for his funeral business. I called home to tell him about the crash feeling sick at what I had done.

I was scared but not of him. I was frightened by the power of what I had done. My actions had wreaked tremendous damage and I knew there was no way I could pay to fix it.

When I called home and told him, he responded as he always did, asking if I was okay. Yes, I said, but the car. Will it drive? he asked. Yeah, I said. He asked if I was okay to drive. I said I was. Okay, he said, we’ll see you in an hour and a half.

Over that time I tried to calculate ways to pay him back. Pulling into the driveway, I had no answers. Dad came out to see and told me to stand next to it while he took a picture. He likes pictures of his wrecked cars.

We drove separate cars to the body shop and he drove me home from there. That’s when he explained insurance and deductibles. He explained that it would only cost a couple hundred dollars. Oh, I said.

There was no need to fear Dad. He’s level-headed and who knows that mistakes happen to 19-year-old boys driving cars. I hadn’t been drinking or doing anything too stupid, though passing the snow plow turned out to have been a mistake. I wasn’t hurt and that was the whole ballgame. Dad is what my daughters call “a fixer.” He works through problems and comes out the other side. Every damn time.

Even as a kid I knew and depended on this. My daughter didn’t know that about me today.

She’s out with friends and will be home in an hour. We will go to a shop that replaces screens for reasonable money. We will grab dinner while we wait and be together. We will be fixers and I will have the gift of another chance to show her my love and help her understand that life isn’t about things getting broken so much as all the ways we can go about fixing. I’ll let her know that we can fix phone screens, cars, and the hearts of a young woman and her loving father every single time.