by Ramona Meharg for her dad, Joe Snyders
There is a fading colour photo of me, maybe 3 or 4 years old, wispy tendrils of hair askew, baby soft skin on outstretched arms, balance precarious, as I try to take a step in my Dad’s enormous work boots. I remember doing this and looking up to see him, this giant of a man, with outstretched arms of his own to catch me as I fell out of those boots. I remember wearing his hard hat and trying to walk like a supermodel around the kitchen table without it falling off on my toes, Dad laughing.
How I loved getting to go for a drive in his truck full of treasures: old paper coffee cups, a phone book to sit on, a partial bag of butterscotch candies, a spare pair of overalls, a box full of matchbooks, a tool box, his well worn in baseball glove. Radio tuned to the Tigers game. His truck was always a bit beat up, dirt and dust outside and inside, the bed full of rakes and shovels and odds and ends. We’d roll through town with the windows down – because who had air conditioning in those days? I’d marvel as folks waved at him all down the main drag of our tiny town, his right hand on the steering wheel, left hand in a perpetual wave.
He’d be gone when I got up, often be late for supper and sometimes work into the night if the weather was good and a closing was looming. Long hours. Hard physical labour. Sunburned arms, drywall dust in his hair and lily white legs under his work pants. He was a dreamer too. There was some night school, the school of hard knocks, the school of life and a business to build from his own sweat and grit.
After a long day, he would lay on the couch to rest his eyes, or ease back in the big chair to put his feet up. On the t.v., always sports: baseball, hockey, maybe golf on a Sunday. He’d send me to get him a cold Blue in a stubbie. I always got the first rusty sip of his brew. Within minutes…snoring. I would curl up with him sometimes. He always smelled like fresh lumber and newly poured concrete. I love the smell of fresh poured concrete.
He’s older now. Me too. He takes a cart when we golf. He visits the job sites, but isn’t doing the slugging anymore. There’s still a pickup truck, but it’s a lot cleaner. The spring in his step is a bit shorter, but the twinkle in his eye is still there. When I walk with him, maybe we walk a little slower. I can see the grey of his hair and the lines on his face. But he will always be that giant of a man standing ready with outstretched arms. And I will always be that little girl trying to fit into his enormous work boots.
Ramona can be found on twitter @RamonaMeharg