This is my father.
Nicotine stained, work-worn, full of fire, fueled by possibility.
He is a rascal, a maverick, a speculator, a pirate.
He is hopeful. He is unchanging. He is mine.
He takes the long way home, so I can see the sunset across the bridge. He tells stories about the car, how he bought it for seven hundred and eleven dollars a few months ago. How they charge him next to nothing for insurance because they don’t expect him to be able to drive a thirty-year old car this fast. I can barely hear him over the roar of the engine, over the sound of the wind whipping my hair around my face.
We soar down the road like a rocket.
My whole life I can barely remember him even though I grew up in the house we both call our home. He is busy. He is traveling. He is gone. My mother pulls her coat over her pregnant belly in the winter and goes out to the patio to chop wood for the fireplace. I’m sure there is a good reason for this, but I cannot remember it. Where is my father? I do not know.
The parts I do remember are like this. He is calling home. He is helping some homeless guy he just met. He is bringing home some Austrian backpackers who are shocked that they lock the churches here, and now they have nowhere to sleep. He is talking to the man who is determined to end his life. He is driving some guy to the emergency room, because he found him stabbed on the street. He is collecting wildflowers off the side of the highway, because they are beautiful. He is bringing home flowers for all of us, because we are his little women.
All this, I understand, with all my heart.
When he doesn’t call it is because he is smoking cigarettes in his office, adding up his dreams in lines of little numbers written in pen on paper napkins. He is at the airport. He is with the client at a restaurant. He is selling something. He is working harder than any man has ever worked before. He is waiting for this deal to come through. He is waiting for his ship to come in. No matter what, there is always work and traveling and the sound of the television and the numbers on the napkins. No matter what.
This I make peace with over years, over time. I extract all the numbers until dreams form like poems on my napkins. I learn to follow these dreams (just as he followed his) with all my heart.
We are almost to the bridge now. He tells me about the car, and how happy it makes him. He tells me how beautiful the stars are overhead, when he drives with the top down late at night. He tells me how they make him think of me. How much he knows I would enjoy the view. In this moment, his heart is as expansive as the sky above, and I can’t believe how lucky I am—to experience his love for me in this moment, so perfect, so complete.
He slows down at the top of the bridge, so I can capture the sunset. I take twenty pictures as fast as I can, but in the end none means as much to me as this. What more could I need than this love? This forgiveness? The memory of his hand at the wheel as we follow our dreams all the way home?
May you discover the story of your life today, dear sisters, as you look through the lens with love in your eyes and hope in your soul. Do you have a photo that is dear to you because of the story it tells your heart? I'd be delighted to see your links in the comments below.