Louisiana—I’m driving a sunny highway. The weather is perfect. The cane fields are brilliant green.
I am going to visit my father’s grave.
I still have a long way left to go—four more states left, to be exact.
Louisiana highways are jagged. When I was eighteen, I drove these highways to Dallas in a ‘79 Ford. The uneven roads were so bad they nearly rattled my truck apart and gave me permanent drain bamage.
Daddy rests fourteen thousand feet above sea-level in Colorado. His ashes are part of a mountainside. We scattered him when I was a boy. I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t been back since.
Throughout my adult life, I’ve meant to visit, but I haven’t. I don’t know why.
My father was a stick welder. He traveled wherever work was good. Work led him to Colorado, as a young man. He lived there in a trailer. He always said he loved that period of his life.
He used to talk about those days and tell me
things that I was too young to understand:
“Every man needs to find himself,” he once told me. “And that mountain’s where I found me. When I die, it’s where I wanna be scattered.”
He only said it in passing, but it was stenciled into my mind.
Mama said he lost weight in Colorado. She said he ate a steady diet of canned beans and beer. When Mama went to visit him, she said he was so skinny he only needed one back pocket.
She tried to fatten him up, but that was impossible. Daddy was a long-legged, red headed sack of bones. He had freckles that weighed more than he did.
I was angry with him after he pulled his own curtain. I wasn’t furious, mind you. I felt the same kind of anger you’d feel when you bite your tongue…