I remember riding in the old blue pickup truck with the windows down, chasing hot air balloons. That truck is the first car I can remember other than the tan station wagon that mom drove. I remember camping trips to Colorado in that truck. We’d all ride up front. It was four of us then, me, Mom, Janell, and Dad. I had a box that Pepaw had reupholstered that I sat on so that I could see out the windows. One time we were at Puye Cliff Dwellings and the truck died on top of the mountain. Janell and I spent all day climbing around the cliff dwellings while we waited for a tow-truck. I remember the time Janell, our friend Erica and I rode in boxes in the bed of that pickup from our house to Keystone lake. We used to sit on the tailgate of that truck and shuck corn or shell peas. I don’t remember what happened to that truck. One day Dad just came home with a new one.
Spring Break of my freshman year in HS, Dad and I went to New Orleans. We took a cab from the airport to our hotel and I remember having to sit behind the driver because I was small enough to fit there. The taxi driver was this really big guy and his chair back was bowed from the weight of him. He and Dad talked about places to eat good fried oysters. Our hotel was the fanciest place I’d ever stayed in with my Dad. There was a pool on the roof and a uniformed doorman in the lobby. We walked every where except when we rode the trolley out to the zoo. Then we rode a paddle boat back to the River Walk mall and we joked about how boring the 30 minute boat ride turned out to be.
I remember sitting at a picnic table in our campsite at Fun Valley, CO making up fishing lines for the next day. We sat out there tying hooks and fasteners and flies until our fingers were numb and we could no longer see the eyes of the hooks.
I remember how Dad used to wear those Western styled shirts with the snaps, badly cut-off jeans, and cowboy boots. He was arrested in that outfit once. Some stupid mix up. Dad was arrested for driving a stolen vehicle except it had never been stolen and Owasso police were and are kind of jerks. I answered the phone when he called from jail. Dad told me he was in jail and to put mom on the line and I busted out laughing. Then he said in a very serious tone “I’m serious. Get your mom”.
Once, Dad and I set all the kitchen timers in Pier One to go off at random times and then we left the store.
The Tuesday after Chris died, Dad was doing a dealership drive to Omaha. He stopped in Kansas City and picked me up so I could keep him company as he drove. He told me stories about uncles that dug out basements with a spoon and great great grandmothers who stared in awe at storms they should have been afraid of. He told me that I come from a long line of calm, strong women.
They put Dad in a VA Hospital in Talahina yesterday. The distance is not ideal, but it is the closest available that doesn’t have a wait list and has an Alzheimer’s program. The place is nice. The people are nice and Dad seemed OK with staying.