Had a huge argument with my dad today.
It was one of those obnoxious, pointless father/son male dominance arguments.
I needed to get to the airport and he was taking me there, with the rest of the family riding along. (Because I went away to boarding school at an early age, this was a central pillar of our relationship, Dad always taking me to or picking me up from airports. We have a joke that I could never pay him back all the beers I owed him for these airport trips.)
But this time, we were late. And Dad had no urgency to get moving. Finally he pulls the van around to where I am standing with my bags, and proceeds to start cleaning it. And I’m like, “What are you doing? We don’t have time for cleaning. Can’t you see I’m going to miss my flight?” And so then we get into this heated argument about poor planning and whose fault this is. Voices and tempers, blah, blah.
This is all a bit ironic because my father is never, ever late to an airport. Where during college I recall being “that guy” who would show up to the gate 10 minutes before departure and be the last passenger sprinting aboard (barely), Dad is the type that insisted on always getting to the airport hours before departure, to avoid any rushing. And it used to irritate the shit out of me, Mom and Dad and I just sitting there, at the airport, twiddling our thumbs for hours beforehand, for no reason. Very annoying father.
This argument we had was also a little weird because I never get angry with my dad for taking me to the airport. He’s doing me a favor, right? Gift-horse/mouth.
Except for that one time when we had a nasty argument about something else right before we left the house and I was so pissed off at him that I sat in the passenger seat and didn’t say a word, stony-faced staring straight forward, the entire 45 minutes out Interstate 45 to Hobby Field. Very awkward. Very immature.
But anyway, last night we did have this blow-up about being late to leave. We’re arguing, and I’m pissed off, but finally all get piled into the van, and we’re on our way. Some other family members are up front, driving. My sister Babette was up there. Maybe one of her daughters. And Dad and I are in the far back seat of the van, sitting next to each other. Somewhat stewing. But I start to slightly calm down. (Also a rare event). And mature up a bit.
I look over at him, and he’s sitting there, looking forward at his family, happy, with this jolly grin he gets on his face when he’s just happy to be with his family around.
It occurs to me at this point that my mother is already gone. And I think to myself, someday he too will be gone, and this is the kind of time I will cherish having spent with him. I may be pissed off now, but someday I’ll miss him.
And then my mind slowly steps into it…
“Hold on. Didn’t he?
“He’s already gone, isn’t he? Yes, he passed away too. He’s already dead!”
But … here he is sitting there. The two of us are. In the back of the van. On the way to the airport. Once again. Reunited.
I realize then, this is a dream, and that thing I thought I didn’t want to look back upon with regret has already happened. And here I am, looking back at it. And in doing so, getting the gift of a few more moments with my Dad. And a chance to do it differently.
I’m looking at him, and he turns to me. Has that jolly smile on his face. Clearly he’s over the argument.
He asks, “Are we alright?”
I confirm, “Yeah… We’re alright.”
He turns his arm to me to let me punch it affectionately in the bicep.
And I reconnected with my father.