Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Father’s Day to remember

He wanted fresh peaches…fresh, South Carolina peaches…

We were in Georgia. First, we had to make a stop at the Verizon Wireless store. You see his cell phone screen was all messed up and didn’t display properly – most likely the result of a few good, solid drops. So, we set out on a mission to see if we could convince the retailer to, at least, bless him with a trade-in, if not an upgrade.

He drove much slower that day. A far cry from the lead foot I vividly remembered from childhood. And don’t you dare cut him off in traffic. He’d roll up on a car so close until it appeared only a piece of paper could fit between the two bumpers. Seriously… One tap on the brakes from the car up front would promise a rear-ender for sure. But it never happened.

We made it to Verizon.

He got out and, with cane in hand, walked to the rear of the old suburban. That suburban had burned up a lot of road. These days it humbly carried a scooter on its back. His cane wasn’t always enough. Sometimes a ride made accessibility a whole lot easier. Those wheels would carry him wherever his feet or his back may have been too tired to travel. So on this day, he wanted to show off. As we turned in the direction of the entrance, he decided to show me his scooter had juice. LOL…

“Let me show you how fast I can go,” he said, a big in case you didn’t know smile on his face.

All I could do was laugh and shake my head. Oh and, of course, watch how fast he could go on that scooter. It took him years to surrender to using one, but once he did he reclaimed his position…back in the game. No place was off limits.

Our visit to Verizon was a bust. It was obvious the phone had been abused. The establishment wasn’t budging, not without making a lot of green on their end. And he wasn’t budging either. So we parted ways with the salesperson and moved on to the next leg of our journey.

He drove much slower that day.

“You gotta help me read these signs now.”

“Ok!”

Oh, did I mention he was waiting to have cataracts surgery? That man couldn’t see street signs and could maybe see the traffic signals depending on where the sun was positioned. And he was behind the wheel of a huge suburban. O.M.G.!

What in the WORLD was I thinking letting him drive??? A trip to the phone store was one thing. After all, he knew his way around the city with his eyes closed. Just put him in the vehicle and point him out of the driveway, and I have no doubt he could have made it wherever he wanted to go.

But we were LEAVING the city. Not only were we leaving the city, we were CROSSING the daggone state line.

I was sitting in that passenger seat calling on Jesus, Mary, Joseph AND the angels, all while sneaking text messages to my sister. She got to LOL on her end. My laughter had to dance around in my heart.

HIL-AR-IOUS!

We continued on our way, chit chatting as we went. And of course I was watching the signs AND the traffic signals. I could tell he was tired.

We finally made it “across the bridge” (as the locals call leaving our Georgia city and crossing the state line into South Carolina) and traveled a ways until we found a nice sized, roadside peach stand. He never left the truck. I had no idea what I was doing; he was the pro at picking peaches. So I walked each basket over to him and let him make his expert judgment.

After many, many (LOL) trips back and forth, we finally had a few baskets he could live with. Those roadside peach stand people were so friendly and accommodating. I’m sure they appreciated the passion one man displayed for their good peaches. He handed me the money to close out our peach deal, while the vendor loaded the suburban with our loot.

“I can drive back,” I said.

“You sure?”

“Oh yes!” (Giggling inside…)

Oh yes indeed.

He gave up without a fight. Like I said, I could see that he was tired that day. Sometimes he would be, so it was nothing unusual. He exited the truck and slowly moved around to the passenger seat. Then we made our way, a little faster I might add, back across the state line.

We capped off our whirlwind Saturday excursion with a stop through the local Krystal’s drive-through. It was June, hot and time for a SLUSHY, as he called them.

I remember mine was blue.

When we finally returned to the house, it had truly been a full day. He made his way inside and relaxed, appropriately, for the rest of the day in his oversized recliner in front of his oversized television.

On our way home, that day, he told me how much he enjoyed our outing and thanked me for spending time with him. I’m sure he knew I didn’t need a “thank you.” I enjoyed it, too, and to me, I didn’t do anything extra. Yet, it touched my heart to know how much our time together meant to him.

After all, he was (is and always will be) my father.

I had no idea that would be his last Father’s Day and he’d be gone less than two months later. God did. And as I reflect on this Father’s day, I’m beyond thankful for the scooter with some juice, the cell phone that had certainly seen better days, the drive “across the bridge” for peaches (pre-cataract surgery, can’t forget that part) and for that blue SLUSHY.