And because he worked as a mechanic at his Shell Service Station right next door to our house, essentially on our yard, I could do this.
Early in the morning after breakfast, I followed him. He didn't seem at all perturbed by my presence. In fact, in the large garage where he often fixed two or three cars, he gave me my own little work bench with a few broken down tools that I played with all day. I even had my own little grease rag. I learned to love the smell of cars - gas and oil – all of that.
I even followed him into the forbidden male zones in our church. Since my mother was too ill to attend church, my father would take me with him and I would accompany him right into his Sunday School class where he taught the young men in our church. I was never sure if it was his astute Bible knowledge, his teaching ability, or his patience with the young men that made him the longest standing and most respected Sunday School teacher in our church.
All I do remember is that along with this position came the responsibility to continue the role of supervisor of these usually rowdy, hard to manage, boys during the church service which meant he sat in a pew directly behind them. Whether it was in the front pews of the sanctuary or hidden up in the balcony, he would always find them, and would just sit there. And I would sit with him.
This was big for me because in our church, the women sat on the left side and the men sat on the right. I was the only little girl sitting with her father on the right side. I was the only one on the left side with a dress on. And I would just love sitting there with him because it was never boring with him. He would allow quite a bit a of mischief before he did anything like tap them on the shoulder. Often when things got a bit too noisy or rowdy, he would only have to clear his throat, and the boys would immediately stop and turn to look at him with a bit of chagrin. It seemed as if his presence was enough.
Actually I think I was a bigger problem. Sitting so close to these young men that contained such controlled and magnetic energy, I resorted to all kinds of mischief to tempt them to look around.
One Sunday, I remember playing with two beautiful, long, yellow pencils. I'm not sure what I did with them, I think I put them behind my ear like my father was apt to do when he was filling out the ledger. In any case, the fellows found it highly amusing and kept turning around to watch me. It was quite fun until my father noticed and gave me one of his piercing disapproval looks which caused me to put the pencils away quickly and quietly
He wasn't a big man, but he did have presence.
The presence you create is the presence you command.” ― Paul Bamikole