F150 XLT

The impact jarred one of the motor mounts out of place. The Toyota Tercel struck the front passenger side tire of my Dad’s truck and must have hit it in the precise spot where a small David could kill that Goliath. Nobody was hurt and Dad was just glad that his old Ford had protected him and that the cops had made the women that sold fruit at the corner house close down shop. Had they still been there, Dad’s truck would most certainly have taken one or both of the women,along with oranges and papayas and malangas and platanos, through the fence and crushed them all into the air conditioning condensing unit on the side of the house.
“This old truck saved my life,” Dad said yesterday, one foot on the rear diamond plate bumper and both welder’s hands grasping, firmly, the tailgate door.
“I’m just glad no one got hurt, dad.”
“Oh,” he said. ‘I wasn’t just talking about the accident. But yes, I’m glad no one was hurt.”
I then understood what Dad had meant. That Ford F150 was his workhorse. His business partner that shared the heavy lifting. On any given day that truck would have been loaded with rejas or steel fencing or gates along with his arc welder, drills, grinders, chipping hammers, picks, shovels, toolboxes, extension cords, boxes of screws, anchors, nut and bolts. In the corner of the bed,right behind the driver’s seat you’d always find my Dad’s little work cooler, all dinged up, with paint smears and drips all over, holding a couple bottles of Gatorade, a couple bottles of water and that one 16 ounce Budweiser, “For when the job is done.”
That truck was more than like my Dad – strong as an ox,dependable, always there when needed and a little banged up from years of hard work – after all the years of working together, it was like an extension of my father.
And yesterday morning, there I was sucking the gas from both its tanks. Taking apart the steel frame that Dad built and installed on the bed sides. I pulled out ten year’s worth of hard work from under its seats: anchors bolts, screwdrivers and a couple of missing wrenches, welding rods, materials receipts and a small bag of self tapping screws that Id gotten chewed out for leaving at the shop about five years ago when I was helping him install a small gate at a house in Westchester.
With each miscellaneous piece of hardware or tool that I’d remove from the old Ford, with each gallon of gas I sucked out from its tank, it felt like I was taking away pieces of my old man. Little pieces of his soul being extracted by way of 3/4″ by 6″ anchor bolts and self-tapping screws.
And Dad didn’t look sad, he wasn’t lamenting the necessity of basically striping his old friend and partner down before the junkman cometh. He was just there handing me tools or passing me another plastic gas tank when I needed it. He was quiet. Stoic. Resigned to getting the job done quickly. Ready to pull the plug on a loved on on its deathbed.
Mom sat on the porch and watched Dad and me pull years out of the truck. She watched Dad and I stare at the engine with Dad pointing out that new alternator or the new cap and spark plug cables. The master cylinder, I was told, had been recently replaced, not because it wasn’t working, but because it wasn’t working perfectly.
I suppose that Dad knew he was like the old master cylinder, still working,but not working perfectly and perhaps that’s why, despite the damage from the accident the other day he chose not to repair the old F150. It was time to retire the old work horse.
As I kissed Mom before leaving their house, Dad was on the phone. “Is Tony in?” he asked. “It’s Jesus, the one with the old F150 XLT. Tell him it’s ready for pickup.”
We had poured all that gas we’d siphoned from the old Ford into my truck. It, Dad, filled my tank

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