He’s sixty-two. He’s driving a Ford on the interstate. This is a big deal.
I know what you’re thinking: since when is driving on the interstate a big deal?
When the interstate is Atlanta 285.
Also, he hasn’t been behind the wheel in three years. Not since a botched surgery—which was when his life went downhill.
There were complications, which led to other complications, and recovery has taken time. He has a hard time moving his legs and feet, he uses a walker. It left him with crippling pain.
He became a bona fide shut-in. His only window to the outside world is his adult daughter—who lives all the way in Union City.
His lovely daughter helps him almost every day. And even though she has been pregnant, about to have her own family, she still labors without complaint.
Anyway, earlier this particular evening his daughter called. She had an announcement.
“Dad,” she said. “I had the baby.”
When he heard the news, he was so overcome he couldn’t form words.
“Dad?” came her voice on the phone. “You still there?”
No answer. He was crying.
But they weren’t happy tears, they were
of self disgust. He despised himself. He hated being lame, and he hated burdening his family.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. Fathers weren’t supposed to load their daughters with caregiving responsibilities.
“Dad?” she said. “You there?”
His lips quivered, he breathed heavy. “I thought you weren’t due for two weeks,” he said.
“I wasn’t, but… Surprise.”
He choked back more tears.
“I’m sending Danny,” his daughter went on. “He’s coming to pick you up in a few minutes.”
“No!” he shouted. “Don’t bother!”
“What?” she said. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I said don’t bother!” he spat at her, “I don’t wanna come!” Then he slammed the phone.
He couldn’t explain why he was so angry.
The man sidled his walker toward his recliner…