In every man’s life certain events are inevitable. You grow up, you graduate, you date, you marry, and you have children. We say, we won’t be like our parents, but that too is inevitable. Our lives may be different, but we make decisions based on how our parents would have reacted. More times than not we catch ourselves saying, “Oh my god, I am my father!” It is as inevitable as breathing. It happened to me, and it will happen to you.
One time in particular, while taking my daughters to Disney World, I realized I was my father. It was the first “Family Vacation” for my daughters and I. It didn’t take my youngest daughter Bailey four hours, of our twenty-hour trip, to lean through the gap in the front seat and ask, “Are we almost there yet?” I immediately had a flash back to my first family vacation as a child.
It was 1976. I was 11-years old. My dad, a car-packing fanatic, had spent three days organizing the car with empty suitcases making sure everything fit perfectly. The luggage rack on top was checked and rechecked, to verify it was secure. The morning we were to leave, my dad had been up for four hours, packing, and organizing the “Rubik’s Cube” that was the family station wagon.
Needless to say, by 6am, my dad was no longer enjoying our vacation, and we hadn’t even left the house yet. After being sent to the bathroom four times, we were herded into the family Vista Cruiser wagon. My father, now with a scowl on his face, jerked the car into gear, and we were off on our family vacation (I use the term loosely). For my dad, the point of no return was the mailbox. If the stove was on, or the iron, or the fireplace, it didn’t matter. Once we crossed the threshold at the end of the driveway, the house could burn to the ground, he didn’t care. There was no turning back.
Now, I’ll never forget, we must have been three or four… houses down the street when I leaned to my little brother, who was four, and whispered, “Ask if we’re almost there yet?” So in true four-year-old style, he was more than happy to jump up between the seats and ask. OH MY GOD! My father slammed on the brakes, and the front end of the car actually hit the pavement. He got out of the car, walked around and pulled my little brother through the window dragging him to the rear of the car.
Grabbing the top of my little brother’s head, my dad pointed him toward the house and then without saying a word, just pointed one finger at the house. Now, I’m sure in all reality it was only about sixty-seconds, but it felt like an eternity before my father said anything. My siblings, my mother and I were totally silent, except for the sound of our butt cheeks clinching together against the vinyl seats, as we waited in horror for my father to speak.
My confused little brother just stood frozen, his only movement was his quivering bottom lip and his shaky breath. Finally my father spoke. In a calm, but frightening voice that sounded eerily like Clint Eastwood in “High Plains Drifter” said, “Do you see the house? That house, the one right there? Do you? The house where you just peed. Do you see the house? Where your mother just made you pancakes?” My brother tried to speak, but was quickly shut down. “Don’t talk back to me! Do you see the house? That house where you keep your toys?” “ Now we’re going to be in the car for two days I don’t want to hear another word from you until we get the there, and I’ll tell you when that is. Do you understand? Now get back in the car!”
We were sitting on the Monorail at Disney World, and my brother was too afraid to ask if we were there yet for fear my dad would say, “Do you see the Monorail… that means we’re at Disney World!” Actually, when his lip stopped quivering about four hours later, the only thing my brother did say as he looked up at me through his red tear soaked eyes and runny nose was, “Didn’t you see the house?”
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