So, I’m a week late. I know. Everyone already posted their cute father’s day pictures on Facebook. We’ve moved on to other celebrations—many celebrations. But, given that I never did get a card in the mail, and a phone call just never seems to suffice, this is my belated father’s day gift. A blog. For my dad.
It’s now been over a month since we dismounted the tandem for the last time. It was kind of amazing how quickly we could go from a life of straight pedlin’ with only each other back to reality. Or some version of reality (I’m still not convinced working and living in New Orleans is real life). But, the thing is. Part of me is still on the bike with my dad. In fact, I think part of me will always be. It is pedaling with my dad that I’ve made many of my important life decisions. It is talking together to locals in Western Kentucky that we have developed a shared love for this country, even when there is so much wrong. The bike has become this symbol of balance for us both. A place where our limits are pushed in mostly physical ways, while our minds can drift. It has been a gift to share so many miles with my dad.
One of the things I’ve learned growing up as Al Gerhardstein’s daughter is that he is not just my hero. Now of course he will hate me for writing that. He doesn’t fancy himself a hero. He just works. Really hard. And does what needs to be done. I’ll never forget on one of our bike rides when he disclosed to me that for the first several years of parenting while beginning his practice, he would simply not sleep every other Thursday night. Because, there was work to be done. And rather than work late every night, he sacrificed one night of sleep every 14 days so that he could cook dinner and tuck us in most other nights. So, yes, he’s my hero, but as my Facebook newsfeed has loudly proclaimed this week, he is the hero to many others as well.
I’m of course incredibly proud of him for his role in Friday’s decision. And seeing him on the New York Times melted me into a puddle of tears in the middle of my office. One of the other things I have learned from my dad about being a change-maker is the importance of persistence and time. He has fought for people’s rights for over forty years. In Cincinnati. That matters. It matters that he has stayed and listened and never given up. He recently wrote an op-ed in the Cincinnati Enquirer after what has been a difficult time for the city, encouraging everyone to be mindful of the original collaborative goals as anti-violence initiatives are pursued. He can write that because he was there ten years ago. He has been in so many fights for so long. When problems arise, he seeks solutions. Always (something that also translates to cycling—rain, creek, dogs—no problem). He has never gotten jaded. There’s no time for that. I texted him yesterday after the Cincinnati pride parade, and the following conversation ensued:
Me: Was today amazing?!
Dad: Yes. Great energy. Lots of Joy. Not the old pride parades!
Me: Change has come!
Dad: Now back to income inequality and criminal injustice
Dad, take a minute to celebrate this victory. You have earned that. But, know that I’ll be there right by your side to keep the fight for justice going. And so will so many others.
Thank you for being an amazing father.