It’s been said that love is blind. But I have to also add that it can be deaf and dumb too. It was 1983 and I hadn’t seen my parents in over a year. I was headed home from Texas to Vermont where my parents lived. It was close to Father’s Day and I was at a loss as to what unique gift I could bring to my Father. Buying your Dad a meaningful gift can be maddening. “What could I possibly bring him within my budget that would bring a smile to his face?” I thought.
In Texas where I was attending school, the state offered one benefit I couldn’t get in New England, fireworks. My father and I loved them, so I had an idea. I would bring him the most fireworks I could possibly carry. I had a major impediment however, I was flying.
“No bother” I surmised. I’ll just wear my large full length trench coat home. No matter that a full jacket in the heat of June would have raised suspicions then and now; I was on a mission. I headed on down to a large circus type tent near Cleburne, Texas and I spent the most money I had ever spent on fireworks. I purchased two super packs of firecrackers that were as big as breast plates when carried on each side of my inner jacket pockets. My outside pockets? They were filled to the brim with M-80’s; the loudest firecrackers allowable. These were billed as the equivalent of a quarter stick of dynamite each. I added some flaming pinwheels to my lapel pocket and I was ready to travel.
This is a prime illustration of the meaning, “Ignorance is bliss.” I never once thought how dangerous it would be to fly with more gun powder than a suicide bomber. You see, I was simply bringing a “love” gift to my father. I can only imagine one day when I get to heaven my personal angel will pull me aside and say, “I had to change my outfit and wings three times that day because I was so nervous!” I must have had the look of a choir boy because I whisked through the gate like I was returning a library book. I did make one smart decision that day, I chose to sit in the front of the plane. Who could blame me? If I had sat in the rear in the smoking section, I would have been as nervous as a bomb technician with Saint Vitus Dance.
When I arrived back home and took my jacket off in the house, my parents eyes were the size of saucers. It was then that I immediately presented my Dad with his special gifts. I think it was the only time I saw on his face, gratefulness, fear, relief, and gratefulness in waves. Despite his stunned silence, I knew in my heart that I had given him a gift for the ages. I assumed he was speechless from my generosity.
As I look back on that day, it solidifies the premise that timing is everything. If I had given that gift to him today, I probably would writing this from Club Gitmo, Cuba and I would be wearing an orange jumpsuit.
Nevertheless, Happy Father’s Day, and much love to you Dad from a son who still causes you a few gray hairs now and then.