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 heavily. “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 70s 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.
grantburris - February 22, 2020 8:15 am
Sean that was another great one. Some days I’m that old guy whose daughter just had a baby. I can identify with it. Things hurt that never hurt before. You told it so well. Made me proud to be old man with a mountain to climb.
Cathi Russell - February 22, 2020 8:25 am
One of my favorites!!!
Sandi. - February 22, 2020 10:42 am
This is splendid, Sean. So often your stories pack such a powerful punch, especially at the end, that I am amazed and find myself saying “wow, Wow and WOW” aloud.
Shelton A. - February 22, 2020 10:55 am
It was Everest and he made it. Hard not to cry with that one. Bravo, sir!
Richda McNutt - February 22, 2020 11:44 am
Sean, you always start my day with the right touch – even if it’s the touch of tears on my cheeks.
Janie's Jottings - February 22, 2020 11:57 am
And there you have it, the perfect way to start a cold Saturday morning! God bless that lovely man.
Ann - February 22, 2020 12:19 pm
Beautiful…God is good❤️
Janie's Jottings - February 22, 2020 12:49 pm
And there you have it, the perfect way to start a cold Saturday morning. Perfect Sean!
Wings - February 22, 2020 12:56 pm
BRAVO! Great story!
Terri C Boykin - February 22, 2020 1:14 pm
God bless that gentleman and his family. Sean, God bless you. Love you much.
Vicki Love-Baggett - February 22, 2020 1:19 pm
The power of the human spirit…..amazing!
Clayton L Hare Jr. - February 22, 2020 1:36 pm
You made my day……again. We will see you in Fairhope soon!
Edna Barron - February 22, 2020 1:37 pm
Wonderful story. It’s amazing what one can do when the reward is so great. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.
Marc Beaver - February 22, 2020 1:38 pm
I love this kind of story.
Camilla Sims-Stambaugh - February 22, 2020 1:50 pm
Steve - February 22, 2020 2:13 pm
Everest, indeed. ATTA BABY!
Barbara - February 22, 2020 2:16 pm
Thanks, Sean. ❤️
Marge - February 22, 2020 2:26 pm
Again, Sean, the tears are washing my face! Human spirit, company of angels, presence and grace of Jesus? It’s all good!
Beth - February 22, 2020 2:38 pm
Judy Wilson - February 22, 2020 2:43 pm
Lita - February 22, 2020 3:25 pm
Thank you, Sean x
Laurie Pallotta - February 22, 2020 3:29 pm
Oh my goodness! That one got me. I’m so thankful he thought to write you so we can see miracles still happene. Every day!
Diane H. Toney - February 22, 2020 3:33 pm
Dawn A Bratcher - February 22, 2020 3:45 pm
Wow! What a story!
Connie Havard Ryland - February 22, 2020 3:57 pm
Tears streaming down my face. What a marvelous story of love overcoming the odds. Thank you for sharing.
Jack - February 22, 2020 4:20 pm
I can relate this morning, I have a new granddaughter as of yesterday!!!
Johnny Bracey - February 22, 2020 4:20 pm
Sean, I am so happy that I “discovered”. you yesterday when a friend sent me one of your stories. It touched my heart, I ordered your books, and this one really made an impact on a 71 year old recovering from disc replacement surgery. BRAVO!!
Linda Moon - February 22, 2020 4:38 pm
Driving on I 285 in Atlanta is a big ordeal. A botched surgery would only complicate it more. We don’t pass this way again, ever. The new granddad-to-be stared down his complications on the way to the maternity ward. The big deal of the new birth didn’t pass him by! What a beautiful story he allowed you to share with us readers, Redheaded Author!
Ala Red Clay Girl - February 22, 2020 5:14 pm
Wow. Just wow. A great motivational story if I’ve heard one.
Tom Wallin - February 22, 2020 6:02 pm
Thanks. There is hope for everyone.
Mary M Berryman - February 22, 2020 6:16 pm
The power of love is so amazing!
snbos - February 22, 2020 6:50 pm
Super story – well told! Love it and so appreciate you, Sean, for recognizing that it was so very worth telling us! Congrats and best wishes to him and a big thank you to you! Sara
Small-town Southern Girl - February 22, 2020 7:37 pm
A Golden Story❤
Lori Henry - February 22, 2020 8:21 pm
Oh goodness… Kleenex should pay you a royalty. Yay for him. Driving in and around Atlanta is no small accomplishment especially after the issues he lived. Beautiful story
debmosierDeb - February 22, 2020 8:30 pm
Here I am, in my recliner, tears streaming down my cheeks. What a beautiful story, and one that I can truly see in my future. Except I don’t have anyone to help out. God bless him for his fortitude and I hope and pray that it stays with him.
Sonya Tuttle - February 22, 2020 9:50 pm
Anger and adrenaline acquired after awesome announcement!
Jackie - February 23, 2020 12:43 am
I sure can relate. I just started driving last month after almost 4 years. I told my doctor I was taking drivers ed. Wgen I’m driving my wife tells me how.
Suzanne Brantley - February 23, 2020 2:16 am
Truly one of the sweetest and most encouraging stories I’ve ever read! Thank you!!!
Steve Winfield - February 23, 2020 5:45 am
Awesome story indeed.
Love from Shannon, Al.
Sue Riddle Cronkite - February 23, 2020 9:39 am
What a wonderful, uplifting story. Keep crankin’ ‘em out.
Ella - March 29, 2020 3:41 am
Debbie - March 29, 2020 3:42 am
Wonderful story!! One of the vest ever! ❤️
Aunt Si or Martha Black - March 29, 2020 1:52 pm
Well…… You make me wanna shout!