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My Dad and the Big Purple Cow

Through this hilarious and touching story, Anne Bardsley paints a vibrant picture of her dad, who seems like he was quite the character! Read more from Anne on her blog, Anz World. 

My Dad and the Big Purple Cow: family man

My dad was a simple man. If anyone needed help, “Jimmy Lawless” was there. Our neighbors referred to him as “the Mayor of Willow Avenue.”

Over the years he brought strangers home. Once it was a soldier who was hitchhiking, trying to get three hundred miles back home to Tennessee. He didn’t have a place to stay the night. My dad invited him for dinner and he slept on our couch. In the morning, my dad gave him money for a bus ticket and thanked him for keeping our country safe. Another time, I came home to find six nuns gathered around our kitchen table. My Gran served tea and scones while my dad fixed their radiator.

My dad was a family man. Keeping his four daughters safe was first on his list. That is how I ended up with the nun’s station wagon with the Blessed Mother attached to the dashboard for my first car. There were also medals of different saints glued to the dash. It was a battle axe of a beast. My dad thought it was the safest piece of metal on the road. He claimed it was safer than an army tank.

The nuns must have used some kind of glue from NASA to attach the Blessed Mother. She would not come off. I tried everything, short of a saw. And so she stayed and bounced over every bump I hit. Another issue was the car turned a purple color when the lights went on at night. I christened her “the Purple Cow.”  I was embarrassed to drive her because all of my friends had new fancy cars that were the same color both day and night. My dad insisted I had the safest car on the road.

Every summer my parents would load us, Gran, the dog and enough food to feed a small nation into the car and we’d drive to the Jersey shore for vacation. We looked like the Clampetts. Again, I was embarrassed. My dad sang along with Box Car Willie’s “Wabash Cannonball,” the entire two-hour drive.

My dad was also a whistler. He sounded like a bird from heaven, except he whistled “Wabash Cannonball” over and over, until I stuck tissues in my ears.

And now, if my dad was still alive, I’d call him up and say, “Let’s take a spin in the Purple Cow one more time.” I’d tell him he was right. She was the safest car on the road. We’d sing Box Car Willie songs at the top of our lungs with the windows wide open and our hair blowing in the breeze.

We’d drive to get an ice cream cone, sit on the old bench, and chat for hours. I’d ask him to whistle a tune for me. I’d tell him he was the best dad in the world. I’d hug him extra tight and treasure the time in the Purple Cow with him. I would not be embarrassed if a tear rolled down my cheek.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Anne Bardsley

Author of How I Earned My Wrinkles. ..Musings on Marriage, Motherhood and Menopause. Featured on, Scary Mommy, and more. I Get my age and bra size confused. I'm 62 but I swear I am a 38C.

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Wednesday 17th of June 2015

Wow Anne, this was a great post on your dad! You painted such a lovely picture of him. Your dad and my late-father had similar professions. My father was a great handyman around town and so many people would have him fix their appliances. I definitely miss those days.

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