Tee and I just got back from a trip to Niagara Falls, Canada. About a week before we left I started getting a little nervous about having to drive through Pennsylvania since that's where dad's from. So I did what I do best: I thought and worried....and worried and thought. I decided to ask Tee if we could get there (from Virginia) without having to go through PA. I knew the answer, but it was worth a try. Let me take that back...not worth the try.
Well, the time came and finally we piled our bags and ourselves into the car. Tee and his brother wanted to leave around 12am so to get ahead of DC morning traffic. "OK, maybe we'll get through most of PA while it's still dark?? At least that way I won't be able to see much of anything" I hoped. By the way, one thing I can say that I definitely got from dad is his luck. And as luck would have it, the PA sunrise is around 5:30am. Which gave us juuuuust enough time to be a good hour into the freaking heart of Pennsylvania.
So I woke up to find myself surrounded by the endless, green, tree-covered mountains of dad's home state. I was sad. I missed him. The "actual-hurting-in-your-heart" kind of missing him. I remembered all those trips that dad, mom, Alisa, and myself used to take to Uncle Pete's house. "Pete's Farm"..that's what dad used to call it. "I wanna take a trip up to Pete's farm soon" he'd say to my mom. "We can just drive up 17. I wonder how that damn dunkey's doing". I could hear his voice. I remembered my mom passing out snacks to the three of us, then resting her arm on dad's shoulder and gently rubbing his earlobe with her thumb while enjoying the views, no snacks for her. This would be every snack time, every trip. I remembered when we got close dad would turn on his CB radio, give the handset to Alisa and I, and tell us to say "Hey, Uncle Pete! Ya gotch-yer ears on?!". And I remembered never needing any music on because listening to dad's childhood stories was a better kind of entertainment.
On the way back down through PA from Canada, I realized I was feeling safe in the familiarity of what was outside my window. For the first time, I felt at home there. I wish I would have been able to say that while dad was still here. I wish I could have let him know that I appreciate Pennsylvania. That it's somewhat sacred to me now. And that one day, I'd like to call it home too.
Thanks for the memories, daddy. Love you.