Waiting for Dad
by Amy Kenneley
Used to be, their faces would be pressed against the living room window, waiting for the familiar chug of the Ford Falcon to be heard, and the station wagon's swing into the driveway.
As one, they would turn and race for the side door, vying to reach it before the doorknob turned and he stepped into the kitchen.
"Daddy's home!" they shouted in squealing voices.
"Daddy's home!" They told me again, as if I didn't hear them the first time.
"Now wait and let him get in the door," I would say.
Then the door would open and tired Daddy would step in, to be greeted with hugs, and demands to be held and two kids-- at least--tugging at his lunch box for the honor of carrying it into the kitchen.
As they grew, waiting for Dad was sometimes dreaded. At least one child had a reason for avoiding the nightly ritual.
At least one child had 1)misbehaved at school 2) misbehaved at home 3) misbehaved, period. Then a pair of dragging feet would be the last to get to the kitchen door. "Okay, what'd you do?" Daddy would ask the forlorn face.
Then they grew. There would be so many distractions-television, friends, the telephone, the basketball hoop on the garage, sports, sometimes even homework.
Daddy would step up into the kitchen, set his lunchbox down on the countertop and ask, "Where're the kids?"
He would be told who was where and doing what. One lanky-legged student came into the kitchen and reached for the milk-again. "Hi, son," Daddy said, watching him as he ate and drank a pre-dinner snack. "Uh, hi Dad"
In the teen years his return from work made him popular again. Potential drivers waited anxiously for his step up into the kitchen. "Hey, Dad-can I borrow the car?"
A brief inquisition about where and who and when, and the keys were reluctantly plunked into the sweaty palm of Mr. Eager with the admonition, "Now remember, The Roads Are Bad!" "I know, I know," was the impatient reply, and then out the door and into the car, its hood still sending steam into the air.
Sometimes he waits a week before he calls. Sometimes he doesn't. I try to remind him that they all "have lives of their own." Still…in the evenings he gets itchy. He thinks "the boys" should be home from work by now, so he will "give them a buzz." Is one on the road-does that "thing" on his ear work?
Another one might be back from her trip, he'll leave a message on her answering machine. I remind him that she'll probably pick it up on her Blackberry. Is the other one "in country?" yet? Has he e-mailed lately?
Waiting, for Dad
They show up, eventually, at our door, whether to borrow a tool, help us with a project, or fly in for a few days' visit. He is happy. He tells stories they have heard before, reminds them of things which, as adults, they either know or have decided they don't want to know, and even before they start to grab for their car keys to leave, asks: "When are you coming home again?"
The daughter reminded him, softly, once-"Dad, I am GOING to my home-this is YOUR home."
After big parting hugs, he stands at the door, watching them as they leave.
"Remember, the roads are bad" he reminds them, in a lower-case voice. They wriggle their fingers behind them in a "yeah, yeah," nodding. A final toot-toot on the car horn and they are gone.
He sighs a little, but I remind him of next week, when we will pull into the driveway of our grandson's home, and a little face will be pressed against the window. As we pull up we will hear him shout, "Grandpa's here!" and a small pair of shoes will be dancing up and down inside the kitchen door.
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