Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Father's Day

[This will be the first in a series of posts about our recent trip out west with my husband, mother and me.  Pearl (mom) has always wanted to go to Montana because she'd heard "it's beautiful out there," so we thought we better get her out there.]

I don't often write on Father's Day since my father has been dead a number of years.  It seems odd to bring it up even though I certainly do think of him on Father's Day and many other days during the year.

My husband and I took my mother out west the past two weeks for a grand adventure.  What most folks don't know, however, is that before my father died the two of us were planning a road trip out west.  He had mentioned to me that when he was younger, his family had driven out to California to visit his aunt who was living in Long Beach at the time.  He talked about having visited Mount Rushmore among other sites.  I told him I thought it would be awesome if we did something like that.

My dad was never one to take more than a few days off at a time - if at all.  Workaholic sums him up. I asked if he would be willing to take more time off so that we might make this trip even more memorable.  He said, "yes."

That would have been just before I went to college at St. Bonaventure University.  Plans discussed the summer after I graduated from high school. The plan was to take the trip during one of my summers from college.  My brother would still be in high school or would have just graduated, depending on timing, and my sister would be in middle/high school.

Death has a way of foiling your plans.

The trip never happened.  He died December of my sophomore year at Bonas.  Taking a trip like this was out of the question at the time.  The idea was abandoned.

Cut to nearly 30 years later and here we are in a truck heading across the country to Montana including Mount Rushmore and other points of interest.  We were listening to the car radio in South Dakota and what did I hear but a commercial for John Hoffman electrical. It freaked me out a tad because John Hoffman(n) is my dad's name.  Yes, John is a common enough name.  Hoffman is also.  My dad wasn't an electrician by trade but he did work on electronics while in the US Air Force.  It was enough of an odd coincidence to give me chills and make me pause.

I am one to look for signs and I saw this as a sign that he was watching over us on this trip.  I mentioned it to no one in the car.  Pearl would have likely laughed it off; Jamie would have thought I was nuts, as usual.

It made me feel as though he was along for the ride we never got to take 30 years ago.  This trip was for my mom, but a part of it was for him, too.

Dad, thanks for everything you've given me, my ambition, drive, curiosity, intelligence, sense of wonder and awe, family, sense of humor, and life (to name far too few).  I'm glad you were able to join us if only in spirit.


AnneLee said...

This is a beautiful tribute to your dad. You speak so well of him often.

AnneLee said...

We were in South Dakota with Steve and Vicki and our kids (who had just finished grades 3, 6, 7 and 9) 20 years ago come July 5 -- drove there in a rented van. We too stopped at Wall Drugs with its promise of ice water and the Corn Palace and at a restaurant in Hill City near Mt. Rushmore where the only things on the menu were filet mignon, baked potato and a wedge of iceberg lettuce topped with ranch dressing. And it was unseasonably cold that year. The speed limit was 75 and that was such a treat. And it was one of the first states where we ever saw hot foods available for sale at gas stations. And there were the two time zones, a Laura Ingalls Wilder pageant and the views of the incredibly beautiful Colorado River.