Flying in those days was a big deal. It was expensive - likely ten times as expensive as now, if you adjust for inflation. People wore suits. We drove him to New York City all the way from Maine so see him off.
Looking back, I remember the excitement. I was 10 years old, and this was a big, big deal for me. A big enough deal to stick clearly and sharply in my mind. I knew that something important was happening.
Dad flew off on TWA, and the rest of us drove off to Ravenna, Ohio to spend the rest of the year. Mom was finishing her degree at Kent State University, less than a year before the protests there ended in blood. Dad would spend the summer in Paris, finding that as an American, his money was suddenly no good when Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon.
It was the first time that the family was broken, and it stands out sharp and clear in my memory. It was hard not having Dad with us, there in that little apartment in Ravenna. In the last year, I read the letters I sent him - at least one or two a week, from 10 year old Borepatch - that he kept in that little apartment in Paris. I read the letters he sent to Mom, about the loneliness that cut to his heart, and how he couldn't wait to get back with us.
The apple doesn't fall very far from the tree.
I'm at the wrong end of I-20. Flying is much less expensive now - the planes are really nothing but flying buses these days - but because it's the hoi poloi instead of the Jet Set you have to check your dignity at the counter (please have $20 cash for handling charges). And we're not landing on the moon any more, so I have to buy my own beer.
But I know what Dad felt. I have email, and cell phone, and Skype. I work for a danged videoconferencing company, so soon I'll have high-end corporate 1080p HD with the family.
But it's still 900 miles away, down that highway 20 ride.
Every time I turn that truck aroundI find that I learn more about Dad, the older I get. The apple didn't fall far from the tree, and I know what it meant to him to be torn from his family by the duties of the day. I also know - and always knew - that we were the center of his world.
Right at the Georgia line
And I count the days
And the miles back home to you
On that Highway 20 ride
It was the pleasure of my lifeI think, I hope, that my kids know this, too. The apple still doesn't fall far from the tree.
And I cherished every time
And my whole world
It begins and ends with you
On that Highway 20 ride....