Dad leaned against the car as we gathered around him. He started to talk but his voice was weak and shaky and couldn’t be heard over the voices around him. I whistled loud and the garage where we stood filled with silence.
Dad started again. His voice was once loud and clear and strong, but now, I stepped closer to hear what he had to say.
“All summer I’ve been wanting to get you all together to have a fish fry—” he laughed but it sounded more like a cough—“but Doug never caught us a mess of fish.”
I had never found the time and he never found the strength, so our fishing never got done—and now the leafs are falling. The other day Dad and I went for a walk down the dusty driveway and a white van followed by a cloud of dust pulled in beside us. The driver told us what salesmen say; something about making a delivery at the neighbor’s and he had a few extra boxes to get rid of real cheap before his boss would let him go home. I knew he was fishing for a sale. We haggled over the price and Dad took the bait. We walked back up the driveway toward the house $150.00 lighter and a case of frozen fish heavier. “Now we can have our fish fry" Dad had whispered.
He cleared his throat and looked at each of us gathered around him. Our bellies were full of fish and fixin’s and the night was drawing to a close. He had planned out what he wanted to say but words don’t come easy these days. “I appreciate each and every one of you and…” his lip quivered a little and he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Someone mentioned that this may be the last time we’re together—all of us like this.”
Did he say that because it’s time to head south for the winter—or was he talking about his going Home?
He smiled a tired smile. “I’m not worried because I’m ready. I know where I’m going and what I intend to do.” He shuffled his feet and folded his arms over his chest. “You kids be careful, I don’t want any of you to get in a car accident or anything because I fully intend to do my best to be back here next year and hope you will too.”
He laughed again and we did too. It was hard to hear his shaky quiet voice but we heard his heart loud and clear. I’m thankful for you. I love you. I know where I’m going and I fully intend to do my best to see that you do too.
Dad, we love you too.
|Courtesy of photo bucket|