Dad was a careful guy. On a road trip, he’d only start the car after he prayed for journeying mercies.
Dad stayed debt free until he bought a house once I’d left home. He paid off the mortgage so fast the bank tried to talk him out of it. Eventually he caved and got a credit card. When he finally trusted a purchase to “Vissa”–especially if we were on the road–Dad would head to the nearest bank so he could surrender cash for what he had just “bought on time.”
One vacation we went to the Coast through the states, all keyed up about Seattle. Dad drove right on by. Years later he confessed the city traffic would have been too much.
Dad shined his shoes before they dulled. He filled the top half of the gas tank. Mom got graocery money after all the bills were paid.
When I head out this morning I wonder what Dad would think about my plan:
- Walk south
- Further than last time
- Stop before dark
- Bus north
Because Dad was a walker too. Even in a northern winter, he walked the 10 kilometres to work and back. We walked to church. To the Club Cafe for supper on Friday. To the post office every month for the latest from the book club Dad signed me up for.
I know he’d get the bus part. Before our car days, Dad and I would bus if we couldn’t walk it. That’s how he delivered me to the hospital for that whole tonsil thing.
But careful Dad also took me joyriding in our old Chevy before he ever got his license. He cycled across the bridge and down the highway to the Little Red River with me on the handlebars. And I don’t remember any prayers for journeying mercies on those trips.
Dad would understand why I have to walk. The city part might stump him. Why it has to be in the noise and stink of traffic. All this fluorescence and neon when I could be up north, in nature.
Nature was Dad’s Healer. We’d walk through forests of Douglas Fir and a calm would settle on Dad like one of Grandma’s quilts. I’ve seen him weep by the ocean. Or just sit. By a rock or a campfire. Never talking.
Even walking along the barbed wire of the bases, Dad would have seen beauty. And the shame of it all. The dead egret in the gutter. The diesel sting at the back of your throat.
Thanks for coming along today, Dad. This one’s for you.