Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Light

Yesterday was my dad’s birthday. If he was still on the planet, he would be today starting his 100th year as a person. I’ve been thinking about that.

Thoughts sometimes need thinking on my own, under the sky with nowhere to go. I took my keys, went down the elevator, and waited while the guys found my car in the parking lot. Then I headed out to drive south by the lake until I found out where I was going.

Those are the best trips, the one’s with the top down, the sun up, and the lake there beside me, with music playing. Today it was a mix of my favorites from college.

I hardly saw the things passing by me, until I realized that I was driving toward where my father grew up. I was on these strange Illinois back roads. It wound and turned and did everything a little car like mine loves. I, of course, had no idea where I was, except that cornfields of Illinois were all around me.

An hour later, I was at the stream, a small river really. It had to be "the stream." My dad had only told the story once and said not to repeat it. It was about how as a boy he saved another boy’s life. He said that’s why we bought cars three towns over. That boy had grown up to sell cars for a living. He and my dad never lost track of each other.

I sat by the stream and watched a snake go into the little river. Fifteen minutes later, I saw a turtle come out of the water. A few birds came by to check out who I was, but they didn’t find me as interesting as I found them.

Eventually, I moved on and ended up on the rollercoaster road where my dad took a short cut. It was the famous shortcut that took two hours longer. I remembered how much my brothers and I loved it, and how much it didn’t impress my mother.

I ended up in a village I’d never seen. The remarkable thing was a church too large for the size of the stores and the houses. It looked like it belonged in Europe, in Italy, not Illinois. I figured some Immigrant's son must have built it. The explorer in me couldn’t resist an old church. My car brought me to on an adventure. I tested the door, and with all of my weight, I got it to open. I went into the quiet. It was quiet.

Inside it was even more European. It so reminded me of my dad’s handwriting. His European work ethic. His deep feelings. I sat inside it as if in his heart.

A light shined in. It filled me up.

My car had found the perfect destination. I stayed until the light faded.

I got in my car drove back on the rollercoaster highway, laughing to think of how my dad shared his life with us, how he soften my mother's rough edges.

Life and light are the gift of a saloonkeeper’s daughter.

−me strauss Letting me be


The Taorist said...

Happy Birthday to your father. He must've been proud of you.

mojo shivers said...

Great story. You always have a way of recounting that makes me feel like I want to be there.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Robert,
thank you. He was like me to your daughter.

ME Strauss said...

Tank you Patrick,
Wow! That is the coolest compliment I could hear.

Dirty Butter said...

I've sat still in a few empty, out of the way churches in my life, much as you describe. Those have been some of my closest times to God.

Your Dad sounds like he was someone really special, and I'm glad you found a way to be with him in such a special way on his birthday.


ME Strauss said...

Thank you RV
For your lovely comment. It was but a dream of my imagination and a twist or two of my keyboard, but for me it was very real.

I love the fact that I can write and see whomever I want to whenever I need to.

dsnake1 said...

Hi Liz,
what a lovely and heart-warming story. i am sure fond memories came flooding back to you on your trip.

"It was the famous shortcut that took two hours longer".
i can relate to that. :)

your dad would be very proud of you.

ME Strauss said...

Hey Dsnake,
Thank you so much for your kind words. My father was a very special person.

dog1net said...

What a wonderful tribute to your father by reflecting on the significance of his influence on your life. Your last sentence says it well: "Life and light are the gift of a saloonkeeper’s daughter."


ME Strauss said...

What fun it is to have your voice back in the neighborhood! A writer talking about writing is a gift to a writer. Your comments are also so uniquely you. :)