Cruel Airports

November 12, 2009
There are no time restraints to quality. In fact, one of my most favorite people in the world, a person who has given me some of my greatest memories in my life, I hardly see at all. Even so, I still find things everyday that remind me of the times spent and memories made with my father, who lives 2,400 miles away.
After my parents got a divorce when I was ten, my two sisters and I have traveled out to my dad=s home in Tampa, Florida every summer. I hadn=t realized it, but many of the things that we do when we=re down there have transformed into tradition. Some things such as going to Busch Gardens, the Greek Sponge-docks, and the same Super Target (which we have to drive a good thirty miles to reach), are repeated, but each time brings new adventures and memories I love to look back on.
The main ingredient in this fun-no-matter-what success is who my father is. He=s incredibly smart, mature and problem-solving, while being naive, immature and asking us for help in areas unknown to him. He makes my sisters and I laugh every day we spend with him. Sometimes, however, we laugh at him instead of with him. My dad has very unique and sometimes pointless procedures, which he insists on going through in order to accomplish a task.
A good example of this is how we get ready to go on a mini-vacation, while we are with him in Florida. Whether it is going to an amusement park, hiking, or meeting our grandparents there are always distinct situations that repeat year after year; a comforting reminder that he=s our dad. Whenever we have a time we have to leave by, without fail we somehow find a way to leave an hour past the deadline. Part of this problem is the difficulty that comes with waking my dad up. I=ll say, ADad, you awake?@

AMmm hmmm,@ my dad snorts in an I=ll-fall-asleep-in-thirty-seconds-if-you-stay-silent tone. We continue to pester him until he rolls out of bed and tries to catch up with us. Then, instead of grabbing toast and a glass of juice, he insists on making a bountiful breakfast with pancakes, eggs, bacon, coffee, and juice. I normally take over so he can shower up. After we=ve all been fully nourished, we can=t leave for our destination without fully washing our dishes. An hour after the time we were supposed to leave is Acrunch-time.@ This is the time when my dad runs in circles and sweat continuously forms on his forehead. He hands us things, then takes things back, then says we can leave, locking up the door, then unlocks and grabs his coffee he forgot, then locks the door again, but remembers he forgot to grab the umbrellas in case foul weather follows us, then locks up one last time, and we drive off to wherever we=re headed (normally speeding).
One of these trips we take regularly is a drive to Clearwater Beach. Whoever is in shotgun position gets to have quality father-to-child talks and the other two sleep in the back listening to iPods. When we arrive, we tote all of our many pieces of survival equipment over the hot, soft sand to the Aperfect spot.@ After we=re all in the water, I find a way to feel like I=m in elementary school again, and let my dad pull me around the sloshing waves. It=s oddly comforting to feel like my dad is stronger than me, and has control of where my limp limbs are swishing around. Then I start to crave one of the sandwiches my sisters and I told my dad we didn=t need to pack. At the end of the day, our skin is covered in sand, our skin is sunburned (even though we received warnings early that morning to smear sun block from head to foot before leaving), and we=re sleepy. This time, driving back, my dad only speaks if spoken to and we all feel the road=s slight bumps as we head back home, breathing in the moment each second at a time.

One of the worst traditions we have now is the final trip back to the airport, after spending a month, day after day finding something new to enjoy, with my father. Once again, we have a Acrunch-time@ moment to round up all of our luggage and make it to the airport an hour before takeoff. We each take turns telling my dad how much fun we=ve had, laughing and sometimes becoming very silent. I never want it to end. We arrive to the parking garage and hear the loud echo of the doors shut, as we pull our luggage to the check-in counters. If we=ve made good time, we have some last few moments to share a drink with my dad and talk just a little while longer. We all try to keep our spirits up, but the thought that we won=t see him again until Christmas, and then only for a few days, is pressing on.
My dad looks at the time. AAlright kids, we don=t want to be late,@ he suggests, Awe should head to our gate,@ and suddenly a battle to say simple words without bursting into tears ignites. We hug, cry, laugh, promise to keep in contact, then hug one last time. I walk past him and turn around with tears in my eyes to give a final wave, knowing I can=t try to wake him up the next day, be pulled through the ocean water or be in the car with him without saying a word and knowing that=s saying enough. I look at my phone, knowing that=s going to be the only form of communication for awhile. Then my sisters and I buck each other up, saying AWe=ll see him soon,@ and, Acalling is just like talking to him now if you close your eyes.@ We get ready to leave one home and go to another.

I remember so many things that my father has taught me, and I try to be like him countless times. I love hearing that my father=s proud of me and I get so jealous of kids with fathers they can see every day. However, I would rather have the little time I=ve spent with my dad than a lifetime with a father who I didn=t love or receive love in return. I believe that the fondest memories and greatest people in our lives do not need a specific time to grow, just the quality and love that comes with every moment you spend with them.

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