Last weekend, I took the children to Toys ‘R Us to redeem gift cards. It was a surprisingly short trip, as we easily found the Power Rangers section. They then quickly spotted the toys they wanted. Easy peasy. We were in and out of the store in less than 20 minutes. We had gone to the closest TRU, which was only about 15 minutes from home and as we pulled away from the parking lot, I decided to take a longer way back home, just to spend a few more peaceful moments in the car with the kids. I immediately thought back to my childhood. My father worked at night, so during the summer, I was with him all day while my mother was at work. Daddy and I often did fun things like go to the movies, or bowling. Some days we would do some comparison shopping at stores like Two Guys, TSS, Alexander’s or Mays (what y’all know about THOSE stores?!). And then some days, he would just run a quick errand. It was on those days that I hoped he wouldn’t make the turn that signaled we were headed back home. I was silently wishing we would be going somewhere else before going home. I guess during our TRU errand last week, part of me wanted to satisfy that same unspoken desire of my children and take them on a little ride.
Back in 2005, during a Christmas visit with my parents in Florida, my father asked me to drive him to his doctors’ offices to deliver cookies to the staff. It was the day before I was to fly back home. What should have been a 30-minute errand turned into an all-day adventure! He had me driving all over the state of Florida…to the Cadillac dealership for an oil change, to the grocery store for some pigs’ feet he planned to cook for New Year’s, then to a new meat market some 1 ½ hours away! But during our excursion, we had such a wonderful conversation. What I remembered most about that day was the moment he suddenly said, “You know, you have become a beautiful woman and I’m very proud of you.” All ‘Daddy’s girls’ seek their father’s approval, and although I had felt his approval throughout the years, there was something special about what he said. It was then that I realized he had purposely stretched out our day to spend some extra time with me. Unfortunately the day tired him so that he was unable to drive with my mother and me to the airport the next day, and the last visual I have is of him sitting tiredly out in the living room, waiting to say goodbye. I did not know that this would be my last time seeing him and on March 24, 2006, he passed away. I did not get to say goodbye to him, but I always have the memory of our last time taking the long road home.
Sometimes, it’s worth spending a few more miles with someone…think about it.