Our first destination was a cruise up the Mississippi. We boarded the steamboat in St. Louis and noticed that we were one of the youngest people on the cruise! Even Dad, at 73, looked young! We sat in rocking chairs on the deck, the warm breeze blowing on our faces, admiring the lush green trees lining the mighty river. A jazz band played in the background.
On the deck we met John, who went to a singles dance for senior citizens at his local church, met his wife, and asked her to marry him two weeks later. It's John's first marriage at 65. Then there was Jane, a teacher from Little Rock, Arkansas who danced with Bill Clinton decades ago at a school fundraiser. Sometimes on the deck Dad and I sat quietly, reading.
At lunchtime we stood in line for the buffet. People asked if Dad was my brother! Amazing for our 38 year age difference! Dad filled his plate with bread, meats, and cheeses to make a sandwich. The most important ingredient to any sandwich was mayonnaise. Dad loved mayonnaise! Anything else between two pieces of bread was extra fillings.
After lunch we docked at Alton, Missouri. This small town was home to dozens and dozens of antique shops. Dad, with little interest in shopping or antiques (although he's almost an antique himself) walked and walked in and out of shop after shop. We walked up the hill, down the hill, and through the old town. We walked all day. It was the longest time I ever spent shopping with Dad. He was a good sport to come along, simply to spend time with me.
Each day blended together like the last, until seven days passed. On the seventh day we reached Minnesota, the top of the Mississippi, and my home, Minneapolis. Dad saw my house for the first time and met my two cats, Coconut and Coffee Bean. Coconut sat on his lap and purred. The two became quick friends.
This was the first of many trips together, and our last. Dad died a few months later from being hit by a drunk driver while crossing the street in his home town of Sacramento California. What made this trip special was our time together, the two of us.
I had grown from the teenager embarrassed to be with Dad to the adult cherishing the time together. It was the beginning of a yearly tradition that ended shortly after it began.
This Fathers Day I will celebrate by cherishing warm memories, remembering Dad, and being proud of who I have become.
Copyright © 2007 Deborah Rogers
Deborah Rogers is the editor of www.littlelovetales.com, a blog of fond memories to touch the heart and lift the spirit.