Run. (A Father’s Day Post)

My daughter drew the picture; my son edited it on Photoshop.

Goodberry’s ice cream eaten today: 1

Miles run today: 3 (not enough to counteract the 1 ice cream)

Chickens my husband rotisseried: 2

I bought my husband something for Father’s Day that might not have been a great idea. He’s going to run his first marathon in November, so he can’t yet put a magnet on his car that says, “26.2.” So I got him a nifty magnet that says:

run.

After he put it on his car, I studied it and wondered if maybe I was sending the wrong message to his fellow drivers. Like maybe they would read it after he cut in front of them signaled and changed lanes and think, “Ooooh. So now this guy is threatening me. Okay buddy, I’ll run. Run over you.”

Somehow 26.2 looks less sinister.

Back when we were dating, I got worried about my future husband because he liked to help people in other cars. I decided it must be because he didn’t grow up in The Big City like I did, and also, in England, the people you stopped to help probably weren’t carrying guns.

One time, two of his friends from England had come over to visit, and we took them to the beach, which was two hours away. We spent the day there, and after getting too much sun and sand, we headed home. About thirty minutes into our trip, we spotted a couple on the side of the road who were on a little trip of their own.

“Stop the car!” he said. “They look like they need help.”

We have a word for that where I come from: foolhardy. Also, sometimes, dead.

So we stopped, and I gnawed on the dashboard because I’m not a big nail biter. I watched through the rearview mirror as the people wandered around in a fog. I reviewed the steps for flagging down police officers, administering CPR and the little I had seen in movies about removing bullets with a pocket knife.

When he ran back to my car and said, “Let’s go,” he seemed peeved that the people were so high that they didn’t care if they got help or not.

I was just glad all of his major veins and arteries were functional.

We got back home without further incident, and from that day forward, I didn’t have to allow an extra hour of drive time in my planning because of drug addicts who had forgotten to put gas in the car.

It was around that time that a stray cat wandered into his life. He named her Flo and used every extra penny he earned (not much exaggeration involved here) to pay for her food, her litter box, and the three kittens she thoughtfully birthed in his apartment.

While helping down-and-out types at the side of the road earned my grudging respect, his care of Flo and her little ones made me realize that he would make a great dad someday. For his charges, there was no expense spared and no need unmet. Those kittens didn’t know how good they had it.

Our kids may not realize their good fortune until age 30. But I sure do. He’s the most terrific dad ever.

And I want to thank the druggies who did not have the money to buy a gun all those years ago.

Happy Father’s Day, D!

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In Charge of Fun

Words written in novel so far: 17,770

Games of Apples to Apples my dad won yesterday: 1 (he was very proud)

Days until Fathers’ Day: 1

When I was growing up, my dad was the Executive in Charge of Fun for our family.

During the work week, he got up early, spent ungodly amounts of time driving to work in downtown Atlanta, and came home hoping to disappear behind a newspaper. Many nights found him asleep on the recliner. Or asleep on the floor. (He insisted he was doing The Sponge as a yoga move.)

But recreation was Dad’s specialty. I mentioned the sailboat yesterday; that was an ongoing treat. But he also took me to the circus, to various and sundry museums and out to eat at restaurants with white tablecloths and shrimp creole.

When it was time to plan vacation, Dad talked to people and researched the heck out of it. And this was before the Internet, people.

We traveled all over the Southeast, touring historic homes, jumping in the ocean and obsessing over the Wright Brothers, his favorite. In the days before digital cameras, we visited Charleston and came home not with photos of The Battery or horse-drawn carriages, but a series of pelicans. Flying. And landing. And flying again.

By the time I was 14, I could correct the tour guide at any antebellum home about why the houses didn’t have closets.

There might have been a bad moment in the Florida Keys when we got out of the boat that took us snorkeling.

I was so excited. “Didn’t that coral feel so weird?”

My dad just looked at me. “You weren’t supposed to touch the coral.”

“Yes, we were. The guide said, ‘be sure to touch the coral.'”

“He said, ‘don’t touch the coral. People are destroying the coral reefs by touching and killing them.'”

“Oh.”

Tomato, to-mah-to.

Anywhoooo, my dad was also the one who worried over guided my college and career choices. When I started getting apathetic in sixth grade math, he took the family on a tour of colleges and quoted SAT and grade point average numbers to me.

When I showed an interest in planning events, he took me out to lunch with an executive who was helping him orchestrate a conference.

When I applied to colleges and considered going to a secondary one because my friends were going there, he said, “Okay. But there is nowhere more beautiful than Chapel Hill in the fall.”

There is nowhere more beautiful than Chapel Hill in the fall. I was there.

And when I started writing in earnest, he was the one person who read every word. Every single word.

Thanks, Dad. Happy Fathers’ Day!