It’s 2013, and I’m at a gas station in Nevada, having the best phone conversation I’ve had with my father in a long, long while.
The details behind the conversation are long and complicated and best left for another time and another storyline. I am on the phone, early morning in Nevada, closing in on noontime in Boston. I had braced myself for whatever the call would bring, but instead of what I had anticipated, I have an effortless and connected talk about road trips.
I’m in the middle of my road trip to San Francisco, just a day’s drive away from California. My father is hours away from being discharged from the hospital, brought in for what would turn out to be simple dehydration. And from his hospital bed, he tells me about driving to Mt. Rushmore, about trekking across Wyoming with nothing but his camper trailer and his two buddies by his side.
There is a camaraderie in how we talk, as if this has always been our relationship. I eventually hang up, carrying the thought, “So this is what it’s supposed to feel like,” with me as I return to the car, as we set off for the Pacific Ocean. It is our best conversation in years — decades, potentially — and it will be the last good conversation we ever have. And I don’t know what tires my bones more: the fact that it would be our last good, meaningful conversation before he’d pass, or the fact that it would be two more years before he’d pass.
There was a man I never met, a man I wish I had met. Continue reading