Suddenly I was in the passenger seat of Dad's first station wagon as a very young kid; young enough that an adult driving a car was still a form of magic to me. Dad started the car and put it into gear without looking -- much as I had done tonight. I asked him how he knew he had put it in the right gear without looking, and he told me he counted it out. That he knew the first click he felt was reverse, then neutral, and then drive.
As I already said, I was very young at this time. It was even more magical that he could remember how the gears went and then count it out so quickly in his head to work the magic of driving a car. Mundane to anyone over … what 7 or 8? Whatever age it is when cars stop being magical devices and are just another mechanical thing denied to children by the adult conspiracy.
I suppose it's natural I've been thinking a lot about Dad lately. This being the first holiday season without him it's only natural he's in my thoughts a lot. Unfortunately, most of the strongest memories are of his recent illness. The strongest memory is looking in on him and noticing how unnaturally still he was and realizing he was gone – that has come into my head unbidden more times than I'd like in these last … nearly 4 months now. Hmm, it doesn't seem that long.
Anyway, it was a nice change to have a flash of memory when he was healthy and younger, and even better when I was young enough that he was still a magical parent who could fix anything.