In all my years growing up, I have only one life-giving memory of my father.
I was in the fifth or sixth grade, and during that time, I experienced a recurrent fear about him. Whenever he was late coming home from work, I imagined that he had been killed in a car accident.
The fear erupted one evening as I was sitting in the living room before dinner was to be served. I was talking to my grandmother, who was visiting at the time, and waiting on my father to come home. I could feel my anxiety building as the minutes ticked by.
When would he arrive? Had something terrible happened? What if he never came home?
I was explaining something to my grandmother to keep my mind occupied, something I had probably learned in school. As a part of the explanation, I remember taking my two hands and holding them out in front of me, touching them and then tracing a diagonal line down with one of the hands.
Just at that moment, I heard the unmistakable sound of my father’s Porsche zooming up the driveway. I felt a surge of joy run up through me. I hastily finished the explanation to my grandmother and ran into the kitchen to greet him as he came up the basement steps.
He was tired and worn from the day—but he was home. The casual greeting between us communicated nothing of significance. Yet for me, it was life. I could see his face. He could see mine. That was all I needed.
Even if this story can be written off as classic separation anxiety, it is still a precious memory to me. It is the one time I felt joy in my father’s presence—such a contrast to what I usually felt.
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