This morning Sandy and I had breakfast with my Dad.

We arrived back in Pennsylvania on September 21st.  We stayed at our one daughter’s house in Perry County until Wednesday before heading to another daughter’s house in Berks County.  We’re fortunate to have a few spots when we come back to Pennsylvania where we can park our RV in a driveway or yard and boondock for a while.

We had a few appointments that we had to take care of and Youk had to get groomed.  My brother turns 60 on October 3rd, so we’ll be in the area until the 5th of October and then we’ll head up to New England for the Fall Foliage for about a month and then head south for the winter.  We won’t get back into Pennsylvania until April.

Today, we met my dad for breakfast, something that I’ve missed quite a bit since starting this new journey.  About six years ago or so, my dad and I started having breakfast every Friday.  He and my brother get together every Sunday for breakfast, but because of my tournament schedule during the season when I was working for BIG Vision Foundation and the times of our church services in the off-season, I couldn’t join them, so my dad and I started getting together on Fridays.

We had a little down time during the peak of COVID-19, but once things started settling down, he would come up to my house on a Friday and I would make him breakfast.

I reference my mother’s influence on my life quite a bit through my writing and obviously, this blog is called “The Journey of My Mother’s Son.”  However, make no mistake, my father has been an incredible influence on my life as well.

Today was extra special, the meal itself was good, but the company was awesome.  It was the first time that I saw my dad since August 21st.  We talk on the phone at least once a week, which is great, but I do miss having that breakfast with him every week.  Most of the time, we would go to a local diner in Berks County called the Temple Family Restaurant.  My dad is kind of like Norm from Cheers at Temple, everyone knew his name.  Our waitress ended up knowing both of us so well, that she’d ask us if we’d be having “our usual” each Friday.  My dad is a bit of a creature of habit, I guess that’s a trait that I’ve picked up from him as well.

As I used to think about embarking on this journey, I guess in a way, it was destined to happen.  My mother did it and my father was a truckdriver for his entire career.  So, I guess driving must be in my blood.

The other thing that is in my blood from both my mom and dad is that desire to give back and help others.  My mom and dad had different ways of giving back, but giving back was something that they both spent the bulk of their lives doing.  My mom never had a ton of money throughout her life, she was incredibly frugal, and ended up leaving her kids more than any of us would have ever imagined when she passed.  However, what my mom did seem to have an incredible knack of doing was finding time.  I still don’t know how she did it, but somehow, she did.  If someone needed help, she somehow found the time to help them.

My father on the other hand, due to his profession, could not give a lot of his time, but he never hesitated to help someone financially.  The church, his kids, his grandkids, or a friend, he’d figure a way to help them, sometimes until it hurt.

He taught me how to drive, which was quite a treat for a know-it-all 16-year-old kid.  When I’d give him some smart mouthed response to his driving advise, he had a text book response for me that I’ll never forget, which was, “Listen here pal, when you’ve driven as many miles forward as I have backwards, you can start telling me how to drive.”  He’s 81 years old now and even with Sandy and I logging 5,000 miles on our journey since we started back in August, I have yet to give my father any driving advise.  As a matter of fact, he’s still my go-to when I need clarification on the best route to take somewhere.  He’s still more trustworthy than any GPS app on the market.  When we were in Memphis and I had told that we were coming up Interstate 81 into Pennsylvania, he told me that once we hit I-81 from I-40, we’d be about 500 miles out, he was pretty much dead on.

My dad always had a great sense of humor as well.  He was always joking, playing jokes on people, and loved making people laugh.  He loves telling stories.  Stories about his old truck driving buddies, stories about his dad and his childhood.  I guess maybe I got my knack for storytelling from him as well.  I do it through my writing and podcasting, but I do love storytelling nonetheless.

My dad is a lover of animals, something else that I picked up from him.  We had dogs, cats, and horses while growing up.  He always had a knack for animals and animals were always drawn to him.  When I would have him up to my house to make him breakfast, I think that Youk may have enjoyed his visits even more than my dad and I would.  As soon as my dad would come in, Youk knew.  He would go right up to him as soon as dad sat down and dad would just pet him until I put his plate down in front of him.  Youk looked forward to those Fridays so much, and I think that dad may have enjoyed his time with Youk as much as he enjoyed his time with me, and that is perfectly fine.

I enjoyed our breakfast times together over the past six years.  Just spending time with him would brighten my day.  Today was no different.  We were running late, which was something that was somewhat common for me over the past six years.  On days when I was on time or early, regardless of whether it was January or July, he’d always say to me, “They must be calling for snow this weekend.” Today, just like clockwork, when we were supposed to meet him at 9 AM, my phone was ringing at 9:05 AM, and he was asking me where I was.  He wasn’t going to miss another opportunity to bust my chops about being late again.

When my dad, my brother and I get together, it’s generally a contest of who can bust whose chops more during our time together.  My dad has a habit of wearing his breakfast at times, my brother never misses an opportunity to point out when part of my dad’s breakfast ends up on his shirt.  My dad used to do the same thing to my grandfather.  My grandfather would just respond to my dad by saying, “Just wait, you’re going to get old too someday.”  My dad says the exact same thing to my brother now.

There are times when I do worry about my dad though, he has a habit of keeping his feelings bottled up, something that helpers have a problem with.  People who help others so much, many times have a problem asking others for help.  My mom was the same way, another trait that I inherited from both of them.

We lost my sister back in February.  She was most definitely “Daddy’s Little Girl.”  They were extremely close to one another.  I pray that my dad continues to move forward from that grief and allows the Lord to have His will in his life.  Burying a child is every parent’s worst nightmare.  Sometimes my dad tries to stay in control of things and has trouble letting go and allowing God to have his will.  When we lose someone that we love, we never really stop grieving over them.  We never get over it.  The grieving process never ends, it simply evolves over time.  Different things remind us of them.  We may be having a great day and then all of sudden a sadness comes over us.  Nothing specific triggers it, it can happen sitting at a traffic light, taking a walk, when we hear a certain song, there is no rhyme or reason to it, it just happens.  I pray that the Lord gives my father that peace that passes all understanding throughout his healing process.  I pray that the Lord continues to heal him and that he seeks guidance through His word.  I pray that he surrounds himself with friends that can help him through the grieving process.

Today, my dad brought one of his best friends, Frank with him to breakfast.  Frank is an awesome guy and as we were leaving, he assured me that he was watching out for my dad while we traveled.  I told him that I appreciated that.