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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Final Daze before the Wedding

I’m not sure when this will be posted, but as I begin typing, it is exactly one week from this hour that we will be in the middle of a wedding. It’s 3:05PM Saturday, so in fact, by this hour the ceremony will be nearly over and my wife and I will listening to bagpipes playing the recessional (the groom is mostly Scottish). Then it's a hop across town for the meal and reception. I hope it's not a blur.

In comments but not a post, I've mentioned this week that my brother Dave is a videographer/film maker and that his house was nearly destroyed by fire on Tuesday. All things considered, they are doing fine, and he will still be "shooting" the wedding. We can't wait to see his family and all our extended family and friends this week. I’ll try to write about the wedding highlights after the fact [as I did about the engagement], but I won't be blogging much from now 'til then. My "Honey-do" list is multiplying. Each time I scratch a task off, I see two more added at the end. This "story" post is about an item that was added this week. Enjoy!
Last Oil Change and Car Wash

The age-old custom of the bride coming with a “dowry” still plays out in small practical ways, like having her wisdom teeth pulled a few months before the wedding, putting new tires on her car, and doing all the things that will give the new couple a jump start on financial independence as they start their life together. In that spirit, our bride-to-be mentioned this week that her car needed an oil change.

“That’s fine,” I nodded, “Just take it by the One Stop on the way home from work, and put it on our card.”

“Dad, I was hoping you’d drive my car today. If I do it they’ll try to sell me all that extra stuff, and I won’t know what to say.”

“You’re right. They will do that, but just say, ‘No, my dad will take care of it later.’ All I need now is my oil changed.”

“It’s not that easy, Dad. Pleeeeeeease? You’re better at saying ‘no.’”

“She’s right, Dad,” chimed Natalie, our twelve-year-old.

“Okay. I’ll drive your car, but how will you learn how to hold your ground in these situations if you never get any practice?”

“Thanks, Dad. Just think. In a few days, I'll be married and you won’t have to do these things for me anymore.”

I smiled. If all of Emily's blushing reminders of the approaching wedding were roses, I could fill a vase or two these past few weeks—I’m mindful of the thorns, those sad moments have been private and aren't about the wedding or marriage… but rather the turning pages of time. My wife and I are genuinely happy for them, and so her blushing reminders and counting down of the days continue to make us smile.

Later that day, after some shopping runs, my wife dropped off Natalie at my office. She wanted to go with me to change the oil. We went to the new place about a mile from the school.

This shop is better than most. The greeter serves you an ice-cold bottle of water as a uniformed team begins work underneath the hood and chassis, checks and tops all fluids, tire air, etc. All the while repeating commands to each other like the crew of a submarine during maneuvers. Then they show you your dipstick at the "full" line and hand you a coupon for their "Super Deluxe" car wash in the last bay of their building. It's an impressive five-minute show for $28.95—if, and this is a big “if”—if you can say no to all the extras. They start in right away with the extras.

“You could really use some new wiper blades. This one’s falling off.”

He was right. The rubber was dangling from the wiper arm.

“Remember, Dad. Hold your ground,” Natalie whispered.

“This is my daughter’s car. I never drive it,” I explained man-to-man as if men could never neglect such a thing. “I’ll fix that later. Thanks.”

“Good job, Dad. Can you really fix it yourself?”

“Of course, I can. I’ll do it right now.” And I did. She was impressed. Standing that close to the open hood, put me closer to the next pitch as the service guy opened the air filter housing. “You could sure use a new air filter," he said, "There’s all kinds of crud in here….”

“I think I’ll do that late…” The word later was interrupted when the guy pulled a dead mouse out of the air filter. I swear he held up a mummified mouse that died and dried inside. “Whoa! How’d he get in there?” I asked.

He held the dusty filter up toward me and rolled the folds like a small accordion. “We’ve got ‘er in stock, Sir.”

As he turned to drop the mouse in a 55 gallon drum of trash, my eyes met my daughter's gaze.

“Ah... I’ll pick up a filter later, but thanks for finding that mouse.”

“It’s your call, Sir. May I invite you to both sit over here in our lounge while we vacuum your car?”

Natalie came and plopped down in the chair beside me. “That was a close one. We'd better not tell Emily about that mouse.”

Other than emptying the mouse trap, they only had two or three other suggestions. I declined each with satisfaction, signed the receipt, and took the coupon for their automatic car wash. It wasn't easy, but I'd beaten the “add-on sales” gauntlet once again.

Nat read my smile. "You're good," she said dialing to our favorite radio station to sing along with as we waited our turn. Sitting there, it occurred to me that she did not have to come with me on this errand. She chose to.

Since school has been out this summer, Nat has hung out with me more often than usual. It reminds me of the days when she used to help me work on creative projects. Back when our profile picture was taken, she'd come into the room in work clothes and a nail apron and say her own special cheer: “We need a hammer! We need a saw! We need some wood!” And then we’d go build or fix something together.

Those sawdust times together tapered off when she entered Middle School, but they’ve come back in a different way. I think she senses the change this year brings to our home. Her oldest sister is getting married; her only other sister is going to Chicago for college next year. Maybe these thoughts have occurred only to Julie and me. All I know, is we’re enjoying more father-daughter time this summer.

I was thinking these thoughts as the green “Enter” sign cued us to roll up our windows and roll into the “touch free” wash.

The air conditioner in Emily's car has not worked for years, but it was a cost-prohibitive repair lost to the constant demands of our fleet of four cars. On scorching days like this one (near-90 degrees), riding in that car was like the old days with all four windows down, hair blowin’, radio blaring, and passengers reading lips or using make-shift sign language like luggage loaders on an airport tarmac. When the car is stopped, you pray for a breeze, and there was just enough wind outside the car wash to keep us comfortable. But as we rolled into the wash, we had to roll up the electric windows.

Natalie’s eyes widened as the eight-foot vertical, robotic, hydro-spray arm of the Super Deluxe Car Wash began circling slowly around the car. In the next five minutes it would do this five times. By the second spin, it was so hot and humid in the car that perspiration was dripping down my forehead. So after the spraying arm passed my window, I rolled both of our windows down.

“Dad, you can’t roll down your windows in a car wash,” she warned.

“Not in a regular car wash you can’t, but we can outsmart this one.”

The breeze felt great with just enough mist to be refreshing. Nat began to panic as the giant sprinkler arm rounded the right-rear corner. She pressed the up button on her door, and there went the breeze. As soon as the shower passed her window, I rolled it down again from my side. Just as it came to my window I quickly rolled it up… and down again as soon as the drippy suds roll down the glass.

“This is fun,” I laughed, but Natalie was not laughing she was watching the arm in her visor mirror and began rolling up her window.

“You still had a good ten seconds,” I coached. “We need you to keep it down as long as possible so we have a breeze. Watch. I’ll show you.” The washer rounded my bumper, but I didn’t raise my window.

“Dad, roll it up!” she screamed through a playful laugh, and just as the spray hit my rear-view mirror, I did. As the arm crept around the back of the car, Nat rolled her window up prematurely again so I rolled it back down only to have her roll it up again. It was a quick match of “push-me-pull-you” with the stakes admittedly higher for her, but I knew just when to raise the window, and that was truly my intent. Our laughing out loud and pushing the buttons against each other went on for ten-seconds or so.

In that brief ten seconds before the spray got to her window, my daughter and I learned something. We learned that fun doesn’t come in a package. It’s not sold by Mattel or Milton Bradley. It doesn’t need a yard-full of people or a day at the water park. Fun can be a father and daughter playing “dueling window” in a car wash. I looked at her laughing there and blinked. My mind took a snapshot of my little girl, eyes wide, jaw dropped, finger now far from the window button on her armrest, window not moving. It was as if time stood still.

We learned something else in that ten seconds. We learned that the small motor in a car door can’t be told to go up and down at the same time for more than a few seconds without declaring a stale mate. The snapshot that I thought had “frozen time,” was not a mental photograph at all. My daughter was petrified and the window was stuck half way down. We'd blown a fuse!

“Dad, roll it up!”

“I can’t! We must've blown a fuse. My buttons don't work anymore!” I laughed as the spray began blasting in at us.

What would you do if a wall of water was suddenly shooting in your open window? If you’re a smart 12-year-old girl, you pick up the floor mat at your feet and press it against the broken port hole.

"Good thinking!" I said, still laughing, and I grabbed the mat on my side to do the same.

“Dad, this isn’t funny!” Nat screamed.

“You’re doing great, Honey!” I assured, leaning over to hold a corner of the mat until the water passed. I was laughing because it was funny but also to let her know it was alright. What's a little water on such a hot day? I braced for the last pass of the robotic fire hose, "Come on, Baby! Hit me with your best shot!" I said with mock bravado, but the “spot free” rinse was more of a dog-leg sprinkle requiring little effort to fend off. I had Natalie climb through to the back seat and I huffed over the center console in time to block it on her side.

When the exit light came on, the car was clean and so were we. I climbed back to the driver’s seat and pulled slowly ahead. Nat stayed in back. Our eyes met in the mirror. She tried to look mad, but suddenly burst out laughing.

"You should see your hair, Dad. It's sticking straight up."

"Well, you're quite a sight yourself," I smiled. And she was quite a sight... and unforgettable picture framed in my rear view mirror.

Cost of a my firstborn’s wedding?—you don’t want to know. Price of a 50-cent fuse at an oil-change shop: $3.95. Getting soaked in that car wash with the daughter who will not be leaving home for many years… priceless.

Click here to see "You Make Me Feel So Young," my Natalie theme song.

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Blogger the walking man said...

Tom you sucker! After next week it will be "Kieth, Honey my car needs an oil change will you take care of it for me?" But then I suppose you'll be like me on the too infrequent visits from my kids I do give their cars the walk around and ask about any peculiar noises.

BUT if it had been me suckered into plating oil change dad say with my granddaughter in the passenger seat with an AC that didn't work I would have put the floor mats all on the dashboard to stop as much water from getting down there as possible and left the windows down and had a nice cool ride home. The told Emily there was an minor fuse problem that probably should have been fixed before I went into the car wash. But I manned up and said I'd fix it later.

Not really but it is a nice fantasy in a way.

Don't forget the extra hankies for the "wife" next week Tom

24/6/07 9:57 AM  
Blogger jewell said...

Teary eyed after reading that post. What a wonderful bond fathers and daughters have.

24/6/07 4:16 PM  
Blogger Dr.John said...

What a great family story. Weddings in loving familie s are such great events. Enjoy your daughter's.

24/6/07 8:21 PM  
Blogger Tracie said...

I love those kinds of stories. I giggled and cried at the same time. :O) Will be thinking about and praying for you and your family this coming week.

24/6/07 8:57 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

The girls say I'm good at saying "no," but you're right when it comes to this sort of thing, I'm a soft touch.
I did not know until that day that confusing the window with too many mixed signals would blow a fuse.
That was a day for paper towels. Next Saturday may be a day for Kleenex. Maybe not. We're very happy, but those are the best kind of tears. =)

If that is a last name, I know who you are. Thanks for the kind words about fathers and daughters. I've been blessed with three.

Dr. John,
I'll bet after all those years as a pastor, you have some pretty funny wedding stories.

I suspect is might be one of those "giggle and cry at the same time" weeks here. =)

24/6/07 10:25 PM  
Blogger the walking man said...

Tom one by product of electricity is heat and heat is what blows a fuse. especially when you're playing window up and window down at the same time.

You just forget about us here and concentrate on not having to spend to much on all the little extras that pop up at the last minute, like a case of kleenex because from now 'til Sunday I am pretty sure you will be "flooded" with memories.

Peace to the soon to be newlyweds and the soon to be 1 girl short q1 boy over parents.


25/6/07 5:26 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

It just occurred to me. I did it again. I thought you were a former student. I don't think this is a last name. How could I have forgotten after the Sock Theory? =)

On the other hand, if this was a former student... I'll explain later.

25/6/07 9:43 AM  
Blogger J_G said...

Very cute story Tom. That's what Dad's are for. A mouse in the air cleaner eh? I bet Mr Goodwrench pulled that mouse out of his pocket instead. Those places do try to take advantage of women.

My best wishes go to your daughter and her soon to be husband. Granddaughters can't be too far off, just ask our good friend Susie;-)

25/6/07 7:37 PM  
Blogger HeiressChild said...

hi tom, this was a beautiful and sentimental story. i really enjoyed it. your are truly blessed with 3 daughters, and your daughters are blessed with a wonderful father. that's something i'll never know, but at least i have my Heavenly Father, even though we may never play "windows" at the car wash. *lol*

i clicked on the link you left on my blogpost
what are you wearing? but it didn't click into the discussion you wanted me to read. would you check it out when you get a chance because i'd really like to read it? thanx. i realize it may be a while because of your daughter's upcoming wedding.

25/6/07 7:41 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Thanks for stopping by. I only have a minute.

I'm new to the links in comments thing. I just took a minute to fix it at your most recent post. I think it worked. (Don't let the title throw you. =)

The ladies got a lot done today for the wedding reception. My only task on the "Honey-do" list tomorrow is picking up a ton of rented linen table cloths, but I'm pretty sure I'm not done. =)

25/6/07 9:39 PM  
Blogger JR's Thumbprints said...

I hope everything goes smoothly next week. I'm sure you have plenty of fond memories, more "dueling window" type moments to think about. Also, I hope your brother Dave and his family are doing better. I can't even imagine what I'd do in such a circumstance. On a different note--have you been watching The Lot on television. It's my favorite show at the moment. You can view the work of the young film makers at www.thelot.com. Take care.

25/6/07 11:22 PM  
Blogger Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Wonderful post. These are the most precious of memories and its just because they aren't planned. What a great relationship you have with your daughter. Priceless is correct.

26/6/07 5:43 AM  
Blogger Jody said...

I have no doubt that Emily's wedding is going to be perfect for her and Keith. The plans will all fall into place- even with last minute things that stress everyone out. And the things that don't go quite right, as I have seen in the wedding business- are often the best moment and memories to cherish through the years. I will be thinking of you and your family. I hope that Dave and his family will enjoy the day. I'll bet that he will capture lots of great pictures and smiles on film...but YOU will create memories that will last in your heart too. I think you better have a hanky as you walk down that aisle. Thank goodness that Natalie has several more years before you have to truly deal with an empty nest. Enjoy every minute this coming weekend. All my best to the 'blushing' couple. =)

26/6/07 8:37 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Thanks for remembering my broDave. They got moved into temporary housing (4 months) yesterday and today. I am eager to see him. Not being able to go over there to spend a day with him was hard. I can't explain it, but it's the closest thing to a "family death" without losing someone that I have ever felt.

We are very blessed to have three daughters, and Natalie added such a great dimension to our lives. Julie always sings "You are my Sunshine" to her. My song is "You Make Me Feel So Young." In fact, I think I'll add a link to that song at the end.

26/6/07 8:44 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...


There are few "never done it" experiences in my life. I have filmed hundreds of fathers walking their daughter down the aisle. I've even watched a couple come down the aisle when I was performing the ceremony, but I've never walked a daughter down the aisle, and I have no idea what to expect emotionally. I suspect she will be beaming and, if so, I think we'll be a matched set of beaming faces (except she doesn't have a beard). I can't wait to look at Keith during that moment. I'll know better after Friday night's rehearsal. If I need a handkerchief it will be for tears of joy.

Most of the time, I can't wait for this day and watching Keith and Em interact, and watching people watch them, and watching the kids in their youth group watch them. [Keith is our middle school youth pastor.] I'm also eager to see my brother Dave since the fire and being with family, etc. (lots of out-of-towners/staters coming).

Both bride and groom's family are very involved this week. We're good friends. It's been fun pulling it all together. The FLC is already set up for 430. It looks fantastic. It will be wall to wall, linens, candles, and crystal. The gift corner is a garden with an arbor, etc. The bridal party dais is set with large columns, special lighting, etc. The big picture is already beautiful. Thursday and Friday some details get added, but so much will be done that we'll have plenty of "down time" for visiting. It will be like a big family reunion. Can't wait!

Julie and Co. have everything well organized, but you're right about the unplanned things that make weddings "real" and memorable. I have video archives from my former business of ring bearers tripping three times down the aisle, bride's passing out, grooms passing out, a bride's hair catching on fire (too much hair spray, too close to the candles on the cake), doves being set free who circled and flew back into their cage, a soloist singing "We will live and love unfaithfully" when the lyric was "unselfishly." Things happen, but this will be a perfect day no matter what, AND the weather looks like it will be ideal, low humidity in the upper 70s.

The most important aspect of a wedding day is helping guests focus on the Creator and sustainer of life and love and marriage. The wedding stuff is just backdrop, but even back in Jesus' day, the celebration details mattered, so we do think it ought to be beautiful.

Thank you for reminding us to be aware of each moment,to take them in, feel them, enjoy them. I'm more confident than ever that we will. =)

26/6/07 10:49 PM  
Anonymous Rhea said...

I love car washes. Next time I go I'm gonna see if I can open the window.

27/6/07 8:32 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

Didnt know you used to do wedding videos. So apparently I'm not alone with the hair almost catching on fire thing!
Good to know
Julie in Colorado

27/6/07 9:09 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

There is something refreshing about being a few feet away from all that action on the other side of the glass. If you play the window game and lose, remember... it's only water (or soap or wax but mostly water).

Julie in CO,
Yes. That hairspray is flammable even when it's dry. I also saw all the baby's breath on a wedding cake catch fire. Fortunately, both instances were quick flair ups that self-extinguished. The hair one stunk.
I owned and operated a video business called Heritage Video for many years. It was a great side-line during my summers as a teacher, but after moving into administration, I no longer had time for it.

27/6/07 3:16 PM  

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