Sunday morning, May 1970, Apollo 12 had flown to the moon and returned to earth 6 months earlier.
Dad bent down to tighten the strap on my helmet. Climbing on the motorcycle, he flipped the choke and turned the key. Our two-wheeled rocket was lit. My arms tight around his waist, he patted them, flipped the kickstand up, and roared down the driveway, breaking the silence of the dawn towards the promise of freshly-fried Shipley Do-nuts.
Texas 3, the highway to League City was a quiet connector in those days. We rumbled past the occasional oil tanker truck as the power plant lights twinkled in the distance. The doorbell, hanging on a string jingled, announced the arrival of the morning’s first customers. The white-aproned donut fryer nodded his head and transferred our hot sugary reward straight into the box. Our pastries securely bungee-corded between us, my father picked up speed and we headed home.
Last year we revived this father-daughter tradition, substituting my father’s white SUV for the maroon motorbike, and air conditioning for the wind in our faces. Gone was the Sunday sunrise where we satisfied our weekly need for speed. The morning had matured into relaxed moments of Dad and daughter discussing life, love, family, friends, art, and astronaut adventures.
We shared our last father-daughter breakfast together on Sunday, May 6, 2018. The following Thursday, Dad suffered a powerful stroke. He never regained consciousness and died 16 days later. I lost my sage, my loudest cheerleader, the one who confidently told me, “Amy, you will find a way”.
Our Shipley Do-nut days are a memory now. That time, those conversations, like the cinnamon buns we relished, were sweet cakes of love filled with fatherly wisdom. And although I will no longer hear my father’s voice, forever I carry his inspirational song in my heart.
My father achieved his dreams. At 86 years old Alan Bean was at peace with a life well-lived.