Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Leavin' on a jet plane

Anyone who knows me, knows that I have always been close to my dad, you can read more about him in this post. The older kids had already left home and began making their own way, and it was just me and Dad, so it was inevitable that we would have a stronger relationship. The joke between the brothers and sisters is their dad and my dad are two different people. Now as an adult, I didn't see him every day or anything, but we talked at least several times a week and if I needed him to come by or pick up a grandchild or let me borrow a tool, or whatever the case may be, he was there and I knew it.

Dad has been married a few times, like neck and neck with Larry King, but who's counting? I don't want to embarrass him or anything, let's just say I have been through the whole dad's new wife routine at least a time or two.

So sometime around Christmas of last year when he informed me that he was considering moving to Alaska with the latest missus I didn't really think it would happen. However, as time passed and he knew he could no longer avoid the conversation I began to realize he was probably going to go. Without me. Yes, of course, I know that I am married, with children, and have all these other trivial things like a job and a house to take care of, but that is besides the point. He was moving to ALASKA. Which, in case you didn't know, is no where near my house in Alabama.

To fill you in a little and give you a better understanding of my dad, he is very good at only sharing the information he wants you to know. You know, the mundane, unnecessary events of every day life, he will tell you at a moment's notice, but the important stuff, like I am moving to ALASKA and I am leaving on this day and I will or will not be back on this day, he will conveniently leave out of the conversation in case you have, you know - questions.

It's kind of like selective hearing, except in reverse. In his defense, I think it's more like trying to make everyone happy but you know you really can't so you just tell people what you think they can handle and try to avoid all the rest.

So when the day finally came and he was set to go, there wasn't a long visit or a party to say goodbye, there was only time spent with the wife's family and a quick call to me to say goodbye. While this may all sound a little absurd, it was a song and dance that we had spent all week perfecting, I had intentionally avoided going to his house so I wouldn't have to see packed boxes and feel the sting of reality, and he had not come by mine so he wouldn't have to see how much it hurt me to see him go.

So the night before I was restless and could not sleep and decided at the last minute to go the airport in the wee hours of the morning and make him say goodbye. The flying sister, went with me and since she is the emotional one, I spent the entire drive down talking to her about not making a scene. We arrived and intended to say a rushed goodbye, hope you hate it and come back soon wish them well and then the sister and I would head back to the house.

What happened next is a rare event and I am truly sorry to all of the early-morning, groggy, rushing travelers who were minding their own business and just trying to catch a flight that you had to witness such a scene. I got to the airport and saw my dad and cried like a fool. I mean twisted-face, running nose, sniffling, snorting, crying like a baby. And although, I certainly did not save face in the airport, I said my goodbye and that is what truly mattered.

It was the first time I had ever felt sorry that I left home and started my own family and left him so soon. All those years before I felt all grown up and was so caught up in my own plans and moving foward that I never stopped to think about how my dad must have felt to see me moving on without him. I had to learn what my dad had already witnessed at least a half a dozen times before. He didn't try to stop me, or talk me out of it, or beg me to stay because he knew it wasn't fair to me and that part of loving someone really is letting them go. He is much smarter than me, and probably less shelfish too.

So my hope is that my children will forgive me one day when I stand there with the twisted-crying face when they follow thier own dreams. As much as I don't want it to, it is bound to happen, and thanks to my dad and his journey to Alaska, I might be a little more prepared. And even though I know he's not just down the road anymore, I hope, that he, and one day my kids, will still remember the way home.

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