O Lord, my God, today I thank You for my dear in-laws. For decades, they have blessed us with love and faith in You. Thank You, too, that of the millions and billions of people on this planet, there are still two who think of us as “the kids”!
O my God, Thank You for my dad, who starts each day with a booming, bass chorus of “Holy, Holy, Holy.” Yet this past week, when I traveled to celebrate his 90th birthday, he extended his usual greeting: “So . . . how much weight have you gained this time?”
Thank You that this Monday morning, I’m back home, a thousand miles away. But OMG, how I miss my reverent, rascally dad!
Dad’s place in the driver’s seat has always been a given, similar to “Dad reads the newspaper first” or “The sun rises in the east.” Though AARP has ambushed my siblings and I, when visiting, we acknowledge Dad’s inalienable right to drive us wherever he chooses.
Lately, however, Dad defers to his lovely wife, whom he married a year after Mom’s passing. That he permits her to chauffeur him — during broad daylight — demonstrates that the times are a-changin’.
However, on this rare daddy-daughter date, he wouldn’t allow me to drive us to the restaurant. Nor would he let me pay for lunch.
He would as soon wear a tattoo or vote for a Democrat.
We rode in his truck with windows open and air conditioner blasting, Dad’s way of dealing with Louisiana’s heat. Our destination: his favorite Mexican restaurant, to which my digestive system and I privately referred to as El Diablo’s.
Chugging along, I unzipped my 60-something disguise and tossed it away. Once again, I was a little girl, bouncing on the seat, riding with Daddy.
Upon arrival, he greeted the proprietors, using his missionary Spanish. A retired pastor, he runs an unofficial restaurant ministry at favorite spots, hugging owners, servers, and busboys. He often tips them and asks how he can pray for them.
Dad recommended the burritos. I ordered one, though I prefer quesadillas, because I wanted to share his delight. Thankfully, the cook that day possessed un-nuked taste buds.
Mmm, delicious. We munched away and sipped from ice-packed glasses of Pepsi, the way we like them — though as usual, he tried to convert me away from diet drinks.
We recalled Mexico more than 50 years before, when our family wandered town squares, eating tacos or tamales, basking in sunshine and cantina music. I remembered a few less-than-wonderful moments: outdoor bathrooms and icy showers.
He recollected the usefulness of the phrase, “No comprendo.” Once at a checkpoint, Dad handed the officer an Indiana fishing license. Impressed by its stamps and signatures, he waved Dad through.
After such a huge meal, bouncing on the old truck’s seats didn’t hold the same magic. Not sure Dad would remain awake, I poised a hand as close to the steering wheel as I dared.
We returned to the house my great-grandparents built. Dad opened windows, turned on air conditioning, and dropped into his Dad Chair. I flopped onto the sofa, and our off-to-Mexico venture together ended, appropriately, in a shared siesta.
And a drowsy but fervent hope for another daddy-daughter date like this … and another … and another. …
What special time have you shared with your father?
Thanks to my in-laws, I realize snowbirding isn’t easy. Snowbirds deal with two sets of household worries. Before leaving the Midwest, they must forward mail, stockpile medicines, and empty refrigerators. By law, they cannot desert the state until they eat or give away every single egg.
I only had to stockpile frozen dinners for Hubby — and assure him I would try not to enjoy my work too much.
However, I faced wardrobe complications, digging through mountains of summer clothes for an outfit that fit. Usually I don’t even have to say the word “waistline” until May.
Migration itself proved challenging. At the airport, I, a sixtyish grandma armed only with expired Liquid-Plumr® coupons, was dusted for explosives.
The airline also implemented an aggressive program to increase passenger space. All zone four passengers, including myself, were tossed into compactors that crunched us into pillow-sized rectangles. We fit into the airplane seats, no longer suffering from lack of leg room.
Finally carted from the aircraft, I understood why snowbirds brave Florida migration tribulations. Palm trees, with real green leaves, fluttered a hello. Brilliant flowers abounded. No wonder the Spanish explorers named it “Flowery Land.”
Today, however, they might name it “Trailer Court Country.” Thousands bloom on the Florida landscape. These mobile home parks offer neighborhood lifestyles like no other. Need to borrow a cup of sugar? Simply stick your measuring cup out your window into your neighbor’s kitchen.
Need exercise? Walkers benefit physically and enjoy constant access to neighbors’ favorite episodes of The Andy Griffith Show — at Cape Canaveral sound levels.
I did enjoy the novelty of hearing, “You’re so young!” Throw in fresh seafood, and it doesn’t get much better than that.
Given my schedule, I did not see the ocean. Had I viewed its blue, sparkly waves, I might have, as my hospitable hosts urged, stayed much longer.
Instead, the heat chased us inside, where they turned on air-conditioning. I tried to imagine avoiding torrid Easter temperatures. Seeing Santa in a red tank top.
I envisioned myself in a bathing suit most of the year.
That prospect scared this temporary snowbird back to airport security, zone four passenger compactors, and a flight back to her Midwestern nest.
Are you a snowbird wannabe? Or do you prefer snuggling by the fire?