|Betty, Lisa and Jim Packard at Indy 500, May 1960|
I was born to a millionaire, but he didn’t know it then. There were still races to win and years to live. He would have let me work with him in the business because he trusted my mother and I am like her, smart and business-minded. He would have built a great empire in the racing world had he lived....I would have been treated like a princess, a real southern brat, I meant belle.
|Dan Wheldon with the Borg Warner Trophy|
But it didn’t work out the way it was supposed to. My daddy he got killed in a race car in Fairfield, Illinois on my mother’s birthday. I was 11 months old and missed him every day, ‘where was my kiss, daddy?’, ‘where was my daddy?’ My mother, who was very pregnant with my brother couldn’t answer, choosing unconsciously, protectively to stare out the window without a tear. Stoic she felt was the best way to handle this event, but in so choosing she drove a wedge between me and her that no one could ever figure out how to remove. She grieved him more in later life it seemed than at that moment, but people grieve in different ways. I learned to understand her and let go, but the wedge remained to remind us of our loss.
My brother, on the other hand, grieved a grief few know of; when we were young and skipped school together and sat by the creek smoking mom’s Viceroys, he would say as he looked at me, “I never felt my father’s touch.” .....What do I say his pain? I just puffed and handed him the cigarette for his turn…. within a few years I would do the same with a joint and we would feel a bit mellow but the pain remained and does still.
|Dan Wheldon died October 16, 2011|
I was at a race once, after being a mom myself for nearly 30 years and I happened to turn my head just right to see a young girl of maybe 10 or 11 give her daddy a hug. He was dressed in a driver’s suit and turned to walk after his car as it was pushed from the garage towards the starting line. I choked on my emotion and I couldn’t breathe. If there is a God, please don’t let that be the last time that she gets to hug her daddy.
|Dan Wheldon at Las Vegas Raceway where he died on the track 2011|
It happened again today, another child’s daddy taken by the track, so young and oh so sweet his boys looked in all the pictures I poured over, driven to find, driven to relive as if somehow watching the horrific crash would scald the pain residing in me into numbness.
But no such luck, the witness, the pictures, the YouTube just made my pain more sharp and raw.
Now there is nothing left to say, there are no words, and to steal a phrase from a woman that has experienced such pain and sorrow, death comes quietly as if on cat paws in the night.