Updated: Aug 2, 2021
“ There, in the living room, is my Dad, who had vowed that he would skip this Christmas, standing next to a bare tree, tangled in lights he is trying to separate from one of the boxes he brought down from the attic."
I am exhausted from driving with little sleep for over three days, making my first trip across country, three thousand miles from San Francisco to Binghamton. I bought a ramp for Rudy to get in and out of my Landrover, but he will not use it, so I lift the old hound up and down several times each day as we stay just a few miles ahead of an ice storm that chases us most of the way. It was a last minute decision to come home this holiday. It would be the very first Christmas my elderly father would spend alone his entire 83 years of life, and I want to tell Rick that I love him after we have tried to get to know each other long distance. I want to tell him in person, and since Rudy can not fly, I get in my truck and make the trip. The storm has finally caught me and taken over as I enter western New York State, and I squint and drive as carefully as I can, afraid the roads will close and I will have to give up after getting this close. I make it to Binghamton at 2 a.m. and check into a motel. I sleep for six hours then slide through the icy mix the last mile to my Dad's house. I pull into the driveway, lift Rudy out of the truck, and open the basement door and go in. There, in the living room, is my Dad, who had vowed that he would skip this Christmas, standing next to a bare tree, tangled in lights he is trying to separate from one of the boxes he brought down from the attic. He has never done this part himself, as my mother and I had taken care of the decorating. I watch for a minute as he struggles to understand what he is holding. "Dad," I yell so his ears can hear. He pauses. "Dad!" I yell, and he turns. He stares at me, recognition slowly crossing his face, and he puts the lights down. Without saying a word, he stands up and comes across the room and grabs me tightly. And for the only other time than at my mother's funeral, my father cries. And he will not let go. And I never feel more that I am home, or that I am loved, than at this moment.