Father’s Day is almost here. I’ve gotten in the habit of going to my local Hallmark store and perusing the cards. I like to send cards now — who knew? There are certain times of the year though that the majority of the cards available aren’t available for me to choose… Father’s Day being one. It never fails that every time I’ve entered the card section of any store in the last two weeks, I automatically think about getting a Father’s Day card — this will be the third Father’s Day without my dad, but the instinct remains — the need to buy him the perfect card.
When I was 27, I was pregnant with my oldest child, I had been married for five years, I had a full-time job, I had purchased my first car, I was finishing up graduate school — by most standards, I was a full-fledged adult. Of course that was to everyone except my father. I was his youngest — I’m sure I never grew up in his mind.
It was March, close to spring break. The weather is always tricky in Tennessee during the month of March — it can be beautiful and 70 degrees or scary with relentless tornados or cold with blowing snow, all in the same week. This particular week it was an unexpected snow — a large unexpected snow. I remember it very well. I was sitting in my night class as it began to snow. I was very pregnant… about 7 weeks from delivering. We kept glancing out the window and back to the professor in hopes that she would cut the three-hour class a little short so we could all start home — no such luck. The class ended at 8pm on the dot and we all just stood looking out the window, knowing it was bad and our drives would be unpleasant. At the time, I lived about 45 minutes away from the university. I headed out in to the snow and began my journey — it was 8:13pm.
I spent the first hour of my drive weaving through the city streets trying to get to the interstate. I wondered who all would be calling my house to check on me as word would soon spread that I was not home yet. Around 10pm, I began to get scared and fatigued of driving so slow — it was slippery and wrecked cars lined the interstate. My little car was losing traction often but I was one of the only cars still making forward progress, I stayed near the center of the interstate. Again I began to worry about who all was worrying about me. I knew my father would be a nervous wreck. I found an exit and decided to risk getting off the interstate to find a pay phone (yes, before cell phones infiltrated my life). As soon as I veered off my steady center path, my car spun around in a complete circle. Luckily I ended up facing the right way and kept going without hesitation. The pay phone was just ahead.
I made my calls, of course the one to my father was on the top of the list, to tell everyone I was okay and would get home eventually… I left out the part about my car spinning in a complete circle and how I thought I was going into labor from holding on to the steering wheel with such force. At 10:35pm I headed back for the interstate. I made my way to the very center of the lanes and carried on. I finally arrived at my apartment at 1:37am. Tired. In pain. Frustrated. I called my father immediately so he could finally go to sleep and stop his pacing.
The snow melted within a few days and I went to visit my parents. As soon as I arrived, my father left in my car without explanation. I visited for a bit with my mother and we wondered where daddy went. A few hours had passed when he returned with my car — four brand new tires attached. It was what he could do to make me safe when I wasn’t with him — he always wanted to do for me, for all of us. He also had several brochures for cell phones and made me swear I would get one the next day — I did, my first call was to him.
I thought about that snowy drive home so many years ago as I went to the Hallmark store to pick up a few cards. I looked at all the Father’s Day cards in the store and instinctually thought about picking one up for my dad. He loved the funny ones, he loved to laugh. But more than anything, he loved to do for others — kindness and consideration belonged to him. So this Father’s Day, I might have picked up a card… a funny one. And maybe, this Father’s Day, I’ll look at it and I’ll read it and I’ll laugh… and I’ll remember those new tires.
Image from Kind Over Matter