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 and collapsed into a puddle of snot and saltwater. He swore at the ceiling. He threw things. A plastic coffee mug, jars of medication, his Parade Magazine from the Sunday paper.
And that’s when it happened.
It happened so fast it didn’t even occur to him what he was doing. He stood onto his feet, without his walker, and stormed into his bathroom on his own.
Soon, he realized what he’d done. His tantrum had given his legs some kind of superhuman strength. But how?
That’s when the idea hit him: if he could walk, maybe he could drive.
In a few moments, he was digging for an ancient set of car keys. He wandered into his garage, he lifted the automatic door.
He tried his Ford, but it wouldn’t crank. So, he removed jumper cables from a toolbox, hooked them to a riding lawn mower battery, and his car roared to life.
“This is crazy,” he told himself.
And maybe it was. He tossed his walker into the backseat, slid into his vehicle, and muttered a prayer.
And now here he is, going the speed-limit on the interstate.
If you can believe it, he isn’t even nervous. And why should he be? He’s driven thousands of miles in his lifetime. What’s a few more?
He sees the hospital sign in the distance.
He flips the turn signal.
The car veers into the turn lane.
Now he’s waiting for the green arrow.
He turns on the radio, flips the dial. He listens to soft rock.
“Hey,” he thinks to himself. “Is it just me, or do Seals and Croft sound better than usual tonight?”
He wheels into a space for the handicapped. He glances into the rearview mirror at himself. He’s crying again.
“I did it,” he whispers.
Yes he did. Three years is behind him. The rest of his life is staring at him.
He steps out of his car. He stands on weak legs. He is in pain, but only on the outside. Inside, he is nothing but confetti and late 70’s soft rock.
He decides to leave the walker in the car.
Right foot. Left foot. He’s on a roll. Across the pavement he walks.
“Summer breeze,” he sings, “makes me feel fine…”
He reaches the front desk.
“The maternity ward, please,” he says to the receptionist.
“Third floor,” she says.
He grits his teeth. He limps across half a hospital, rides an elevator, and winces the whole way.
In a few minutes, he is holding a newborn against his chest, and he is realizing things. Big things.
And years after this particular evening, this man will one day write to a redheaded author. It will be after a taxing physical therapy session.
He will write:
“I know it’s probably not your kind of story… I mean, big deal, it’s not like I climbed Lookout Mountain or anything.”
And well, I have to agree with him on that. He didn’t climb Lookout Mountain. Not even close.
It was Everest.
Sarah - January 21, 2019 7:13 am
Beth Ann Chiles - January 21, 2019 12:05 pm
So happy he let you tell his story. It’s an amazing one.
Debbie - January 21, 2019 12:15 pm
How many times in our lives do we give in and let ourselves be “looked after”? It’s just easier. Thank you, sir, for reminding us that it’s not always in our best interest. This was a wonderful story. (By the way, I’m 68, and I think you’re crazy for driving on 285 at any age….but our kids inspire us to do many things.)
Sherry - January 21, 2019 12:38 pm
Edna B. - January 21, 2019 12:50 pm
Awesome story! And I agree, he climbed Mt. Everest! You’ve just started my day with a tear and a big smile, Sean. Thank you. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.
Gaynell Lumsden - January 21, 2019 8:07 pm
My sentiments exactly. Sean always makes my day!
Tommy Palmer - January 21, 2019 1:03 pm
Dell - January 21, 2019 1:11 pm
Inspiration first thing in the morning!
Jan - January 21, 2019 1:27 pm
Another home run! Thank you Sean and Congratulations Grandpa (even though it may be a little late)!!!
Elizabeth Edens - January 21, 2019 1:56 pm
Crying in my coffee. You go Grandpa!
Debbie Britt - January 21, 2019 2:10 pm
Oh what mountains love can move!
John Brewster - January 21, 2019 2:42 pm
Ordinary people sometimes do extraordinary things. You have a gift, first to appreciate those (as your readers do), then to find them (how you do it other than friendliness and word of mouth, I don’t know), and finally to write about them in lovely, complete short stories.
Keep up the good work. The greatness of our country is its regular folks.
Sandra Smith - January 21, 2019 2:51 pm
I absolutely LOVE this !
Makes me think of all the patient’s I watched climb their own Everest, over the years.
Now retired, because Multiple Sclerosis robbed me of the ability to give my patients the 100% they deserved, it is the memory of their strength that pushes me, everyday, up my own journey.
I hope your friend is boogie’n down ! ?
Rhonda Dickinson - January 21, 2019 2:54 pm
Why do so many of your stories make me cry?
Marinan Brewer - January 21, 2019 3:06 pm
TKS for that story and tell him tks for sharing
MermaidGrammy - January 21, 2019 3:12 pm
Fantastic! The greatest success story I’ve heard in a long time. Maybe ever. Gives us all hope. Thank you
Todd Walker - January 21, 2019 3:18 pm
Sean, good morning! Thank you for coming to Gadsden, Al. this past week. You made a young lady, Miss Lorie, very happy. She is still talking about your visit and the fact that you remembered her name. I didn’t come and shake your hand, but was watching her have so much fun. It was the best late Christmas gift I could have given her. It was her night. I thought I was going to have to resuscitate her when you told the story about the eyebrows. So funny! What Miss Lorie didn’t tell you is that she co-pastors a church with me here in Gadsden – for the last 20 years. She loves people and is a great speaker in her own right. We are of that persuasion of church where you went to eat the pound cake. Miss Lorie is an amazing lady and I am so glad she got to meet you and your wife. You’ll have to come back and visit with us again sometime soon. Blessing!
Jacque - January 21, 2019 3:21 pm
Again one of your story made me cry but tears of joy for this man and his new found freedom and his precious grandchild. So very uplifting. Thank you.
Janet Dabney Bowman - January 21, 2019 3:55 pm
Thank you. This is my story.
Robert Chiles - January 21, 2019 3:58 pm
What a writer you are!
Janie F. - January 21, 2019 4:05 pm
Crying again. Sean, you are the best! God bless that wonderful man and you for sharing his story.
Lee Taylor - January 21, 2019 4:33 pm
Gwen Monroe - January 21, 2019 4:38 pm
Thank you, thank you for writing this story. It brought me to tears for so many reasons. You are a blessing.
Johnny - January 21, 2019 4:44 pm
Great read as always! I thank God for allowing you to find your talent which you share with us!
Shelton A. - January 21, 2019 4:52 pm
Everest, indeed. Inspiring story…thanks so much for sharing this. My day is made.
dogsdolls - January 21, 2019 5:36 pm
Cathi - January 21, 2019 5:48 pm
Read this at 3am & cried. Reading it again at noon & crying again. Thank you Sean, for sharing this Everest story!
Edy - January 21, 2019 7:10 pm
Yes it was! Beautiful story
Gaynell Lumsden - January 21, 2019 7:53 pm
All I can say is “WOW” – What a beautiful story!!! Thanks – as usual Sean – You mademy day againn. I love your beautiful spirit. Gaynell
Marcia MacLean, Lynn Haven - January 21, 2019 10:19 pm
This was a captivating story and I was hanging onto every word. Thanks for sharing about such inspiring people.
Clarine Best - January 22, 2019 4:33 pm
Great story. I enjoy your stories every day.
Diana Sarafin - January 23, 2019 3:46 am
Oh how I can relate. Thank you Sean, so tearfully beautiful.
Cheryl - January 23, 2019 3:33 pm
Indeed it was Everest. Now on to my own ant hill….
Janet Mary Lee - January 23, 2019 5:22 pm
Awesome!! A wonderful story related by a wonderful writer. Another best!!! 🙂
ponder304 - January 29, 2019 10:38 am
Inspired by love and encouraging as always! Sean, thank you for giving hope.
Patricia - February 20, 2019 7:22 am
A grandchild can make the impossible possible. ?
Mickey Breedlove - February 20, 2019 11:23 am
Beautiful story, Sean! Thanks for sharing.
Mary Ann Massey - February 20, 2019 1:46 pm
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THIS….The determination we find when we are told we cannot do something is absolutely amazing! Way to go Grandpa!!! ❤️?
unkle Kenny - February 21, 2019 1:46 am
Youk now ever time you read a good story it just gets better. Time has passed since the last read and thangs have changed for me and many other folk. A shiver shot down my spine as I read it tonight. Good job Sean. uk