This morning, I thought about the last time I spent an extended period of time alone with my father.
It was the last day of eighth grade. Because it was a variation on the magnet school format, the middle school I attended didn’t have buses. I carpooled in the morning with a kid who was an acquaintance at best, and either my mom or dad picked me up at 3:15 p.m.
When my dad got me in his shiny, black Lincoln Mark VII that day, he said we were going for a ride before we went home. My dad, the road and me — that was our thing. I’m beginning to see where I get this from.
We left Hampton and headed to Ocean View in Norfolk. We hung out on the beach for a while, and a baptism occurred while we were there. When I was in college, I met the person who was baptized that day. Because I’m living proof of the small-world experiment.
After leaving Ocean View, we went to downtown Norfolk then took the Elizabeth River Ferry to downtown Portsmouth. We got some food and then, finally, returned home.
Meanwhile, my mother was wondering where in the purple-spotted hell we had been for hours.
I’m beginning to see where I get this from.
* * *
Within a year, Dad was pretty bad off. Soon afterward after years and years of wanting to see Richmond, I was in a crammed car, saying my goodbyes as he was on a hospital bed in the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center. It took me a very long time to drive on that stretch of Broad Rock Boulevard again.
Then it was that Monday in October. All I remember is that I was in social studies class.
His first grandchild was born that summer while he awaited in vain for a new heart. He never got to see him.
Looking back at the last day of eighth grade. I think he knew he was dying and there was so much he was going to miss.
But that day with him was a good day, and I’m glad that day is one that has stuck out in my mind.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I love you.