We worked in the back of a great big van, more like a delivery truck. Not as big as a moving van, but far bigger than a passenger vehicle. Workbenches, grinders, air and power tools of all kinds, bins of parts and whatnot. It was convenient for work, being totally mobile. For driving, not so much. The van was awkward, felt top-heavy, and it as a nightmare to back up. I could always hear stuff shifting, rattling, pinging as we hit bumps or turned corners.
After lunch at a new place one day I headed out the back exit of the parking lot.
There was no back exit.
… more … “Lemon Grove Killer Van”
We sat in the dark back seat, watching the digital clock (made of actual light bulbs) atop the bank in Chula Vista. It was a long red light. We’d seen the time change from 7:03 to 7:04 and all four of us started counting the seconds until it changed again.
Quietly, in the back seat: “57, 58, 59” and then, not quietly at all, the four of us shouting “Now!”
At that moment, the left turn light changed to green.
Dad stomped on the gas.
We weren’t in the left turn lane.
… more … “How to Make Your Father Run a Red Light”
Happy endings ahead on all fronts. This could have all become tragedy on various levels. You may know that comedy = tragedy + time. This means that the time you backed into the 100,000-gallon aquarium and flooded your new Cadillac can become a great story you tell over and over rather than something you never speak of again. In this case, all ended well, so feel free to laugh at my antics. Someone should.
Awoke to my phone ringing. I charge it in the living room, so there’s no way I was going to get the call. Sue tried to catch it but it stopped ringing.
Her phone rang seconds later. It was my mom, sounding pretty sick. She’d tried to get a doctor’s appointment the day before because she could barely breathe, but they didn’t have anything until today.
She said “I’ll try again tomorrow, if I live through the night.” My mother is famous for her positive perspective.
This morning she couldn’t breathe so she called to see if someone could take her to the emergency room.
… more … “Tragedy, or Comedy? Knowing the Ending Makes All the Difference”
The wind howled so loud he could just make out his cell phone, ringing his mother’s home phone. Maybe it wasn’t turned up all the way. Didn’t matter; he daren’t give up one hand in the fight against the steering wheel.
It was why he’d moved here, to watch over his aging mother. He didn’t begrudge his brother and sister their lives; he’d have moved here for the beauty of the place, not to mention the economical lifestyle it allowed.
He didn’t begrudge his mother the gentle neediness of a twice-widowed elderly woman. She’d mellowed in her age. Less mourning, more reminiscing.
He’d begrudge the final call, though, when it came. Her apartment door would be unlocked, as it always was. He’d step in, calling her, but she’d not answer. She never did, whether she couldn’t hear him or just wasn’t answering.
That’s what he’d begrudge: the finding, then the calling, the endless mourning of others on his behalf.
It started to snow as he slowed for the series of camera-topped speed-limit signs at the edge of town.
Turning onto Main Street, he heard his phone ring through to her voice mail, finally. The wind blew less fiercely between the buildings so he pulled his left glove off in his right armpit and pressed the hang-up button on his phone, dropping it clunk rattle back into the door handle of the van.
Before my parents married my father was in the Air Force, stationed for most of the duration in Alaska. He spent his time as a radio operator on a Tin Goose, the historic Ford Trimotor. When he left the Air Force he was given a plane ticket home to Wisconsin.
Another chap who got out at the same time sold his plane ticket and bought an old Packard, declaring it was cheaper to drive home to the mid-west, and then he could sell the car.
I’m not sure if it was my father’s love of adventure or his notoriously thrifty spirit, but he sold his plane ticket and rode along.
He regretted it.
… more … “The Packard Door That Wouldn’t Close (or, The Al-Can Highway is No Place for a Nap)”