I could feel someone touching my shoulder, and shaking me. “I don’t wanna…get up mom.” I mumbled.
“Wake up, Son.”
Opening your eyes, I couldn’t focus my eyes in the dim light of my, but I was able to make out the outline of someone familiar.
Sitting up straight in bed, I shouted, “DAD! You came!”
Strong arms reached around me in the dark, “Shhhh…you’ll wake your Mom and sisters. Happy Birthday, John. I told you I would make it.”
As his arms released me, I heard my Dad say, “Get dressed, we’re going to Sawyer’s Mill.”
Immediately scrambling out of the bed, I answered, “Yes Sir!” I couldn’t contain my excitement of going fishing in the middle of the night with my Dad.
Nervously, I ask, “Well…how do I look?” Spreading my arms out and turning in a circle for the two figures in front of me. Stopping, I faced my parents for their opinion.
“Very handsome,” my Mom said, her smile could have lit up the entire room if I turned off the light switch.
I can see Dad frowning at me. Why can’t I make him happy? Dropping my arms to my side, I couldn’t keep the irritation out of my voice as I ask, “What’s wrong now?”
“Nothing, really…there’s something missing.”
“What? I forgot to zip up my fly?” It’s always something with the Mr. Astronaut.
Dad didn’t even say anything before he turned and walked out of the room. Looking at my Mom, I ask, “Can’t make him happy, can I?” I couldn’t hide the disappointment in my voice.
The smile was still on her face when she answered, “It’ll be fine, Johnny.” she said, patting my arm.
Hearing his footsteps in the hall, I watched as Dad came back into the room, his hands behind his back. “Your Mother told me you didn’t have enough money for everything tonight.”
Looking over at Mom, I couldn’t hide my embarrassment. How could she tell him?
“Well, yeah. There was a screw up on my paycheck and…” I watched as he pulled out his hands and saw they held a corsage and boutonnière. “No young lady should go to the prom without a corsage.” he said, passing the small bundle of flowers over to Mom.
Stepping forward, Dad placed the boutonnière in the lapel of my tux. “I want to tell you how proud I am of you, Son. You’ve worked really hard, and now fixing to see the payoff. It’s not every day a man finds out his son has been accepted at MIT.”
I can see the pride in his eyes as he looks at me, I couldn’t help being surprised at that. I had given up on him noticing anything I did a long time ago.
I couldn’t help the smile on my face as I said, “I had a good example, Dad.”
I stood there, wishing I could see him one more time. It wasn’t enough to just see Dad’s image on an old photograph and hear his voice float through thousands of miles of space say, “I will, Son. You tell my grandkids about me.”
I couldn’t help the laugh that came from me, “That’s a no brainer. They gotta know who my hero is.” God, this is harder than I thought.
I can hear the emotion in Dad’s voice as he said, “You’re gonna find, when you have your own, you want them to pass you. Be better, climb higher. If that’s the measure, I’m…the greatest Dad on Earth.”
More than you’ll ever know. “I love you, Dad.”
I can hear his breath slightly blow into the phone. “You’re the heart and soul of my life, Son. I love you.” I can hear the hard fought tears in his voice, and for a microt I thought I was going to follow him.
Fingering the old photo for perhaps the two millionth time, and unable to keep the memories from taking over again. I flick at the film Pilot had suggested to protect the fragile document, and I can’t help but wonder what Dad would think of me now.
Wiping away the tears as they began welling up in my eyes, I whisper, “God…I miss you Dad.”
I guess I must have really been lost in my thoughts because suddenly there are two sets of arms around me, and voices yelling, “Hey, Grandpa!!”
As the arms release me, I turn around to see the two little girls, each with a mischievous grin on their faces, “Hey you two. Where’s your Daddy?” I ask, opening my arms up to hug them both at the same time.
Swinging her arms back and forth, Tara says, “He went to see Nanna, but he told us to tell you he wanted to show you the new Fe-fe-…” I can see her struggle to say the word right, but before I can correct her, Xallia decides to do that for me.
“Feliaka drive.” she said with a matter of fact tone to her voice.
Looking at the two girls, I notice things about their features that had changed in the half cycle since I had last scene them.
Pulling the girls unto my lap and say as they lay their heads on my chest, “While we’re waiting on Connor, why don’t I tell you a story about my hero?”