This past week, my mom and dad visited with the girls and me for a couple of days. Stanton was out of town for work, and Anna had just turned 2—great timing for a catch-up. They would give me a hand with the girls, and also deliver some belated birthday presents to Anna.
When my parents arrived, my dad hauled a cooler into the house. The cooler contained a huge amount of food that my mom had prepared for my family and me: stuffed shells, minestrone soup, coconut chicken, zucchini fritters, and lots and lots of cookies. There’s a custom, I think: When you grow up Italian-American, you bring your loved ones homemade cookies.
And in my family, it’s customary that my mom handles the cooking and baking, while my dad hauls the cooler.
On Wednesday, I encouraged my dad to come along with me to pick up Grace from preschool. “There’s a McDonald’s drive-thru on the way, so we can stop to get coffee,” I added. Ever a fan of Micky D’s, Dad agreed.
When we got to McDonald’s, I pulled into the drive-thru. “You know, it’s faster to order inside,” my dad said.
“All we’re getting is two coffees,” I replied.
“I’m just saying…”
“By the way,” I interrupted, “do you have any small bills? Because I only have a twenty…”
“Sure, honey,” my dad said, reaching for his wallet. You have to love dads.
I ordered our coffees, Dad paid, and then we pulled up to pick up our order. A lady opened the window and said, “I’m so sorry, we just ran out of coffee. But we’re brewing a new pot.
“It’ll be ready in two minutes…maybe three.”
I sighed. We might be late picking Grace up.
“It’s faster to order inside,” Dad repeated.
I looked over at him. “You know you’re aggravating me.”
Dad smiled. “I know you very well, and yes, I know I’m aggravating you.”
The next day, Thursday, the Capital Region saw its first real snowstorm of the season: about 11 inches. Dad did a few rounds of shoveling the sidewalk and driveway. Then I bundled Grace up so that she and her “Pop” could play in the snow for a bit.
My mom and I watched them through the windows (Anna was napping). I smiled as Grace and my dad chased each other through the still-falling snowflakes, tossed snowballs at each other, and shook tufts of snow off the pine trees.
After 15 minutes, they hustled back inside. Grace requested hot chocolate. “Me, too!” my dad said.
“Since when do you drink hot chocolate?” I wondered.
“Hot chocolate would hit the spot right now,” Dad said.
Later that day, he told me he only asked for some because Grace was having it. But I think he really did want hot chocolate that day. (Sorry, McDonald’s drive-thru.)
That evening, my parents headed back to their hotel. They always stay in hotels because Dad snores loudly and, thus, can be a noisy houseguest. “Thanks for all your help,” I told them.
Later that night, I noticed that my dad had dragged the trash cart out for pickup in the morning. I do this when Stanton’s traveling for work, and I can do this—but Dad’s small, thoughtful gesture touched my heart.
I called him to tell him so.
“You’re welcome, honey,” he said. “We’ll see you in the morning to say goodbye.”
In the morning, my dad and I dropped Grace off at preschool. On the way back, we chatted about driving in winter-weather conditions, something I’m not practiced at after 11 years in Virginia and Texas.
“If you feel your car slipping on ice, don’t brake hard,” Dad said.
“Take your time; go slow,” he added. “Don’t worry about what the car behind you is doing.”
Good advice in general, right?
Thanks, Dad. P.S. Love you.
Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s newest short fiction e-book, “This Is Just a Story.” Fun, timely and thought-provoking.