Friday, December 25, 2009

A Father’s Christmas

It’s Christmas here in Ohio, but it’s still Christmas Eve in Seattle as I check the status for flight 1060 on the Delta Website. The plane is reportedly on time for its 10:30 p.m. departure, but I have learned from personal experience that that status can change at any moment. I call my son’s cell phone. He doesn’t answer. I know he just got off from work and he’s headed for the airport. I leave a message to call me when he gets there. I figure he will call at around 1:00 a.m. our time. I’ll be up. I have visions of him having trouble getting a taxi or being confronted with long lines at the check-in. Holiday travel is a bitch. The TV news has been full of horror stories. I keep checking the Website. The plane is still on time. The phone rings. It’s 1:00 a.m. just like I figured. Hi, Dad I’m at the gate. Good, see you tomorrow, Son. Have a good flight.

A Frank Capra movie is playing on the TV in the living room. Amy is watching a Chinese soap opera on her laptop in bed. The Website says the plane is now boarding. I picture my son with his suitcase, handing his boarding pass to the lady at the gate. I hope he sleeps on the flight. We already had one airline-imposed change in his itinerary that will result in a four-hour layover in Atlanta. Now he won’t get to Dayton until 11:45 a.m. instead of 9:00 a.m. Precious hours lost. He’ll be exhausted by the time he gets here.

It’s now 1:31 a.m. our time. Every time I check the Delta site, I have to remember that the plane is leaving yesterday. It reports that the plane is “awaiting takeoff.” This is a good sign. But I remember what happened with Jet Blue... Nine hours on the runway. "Awaiting takeoff" doesn’t mean a thing. I’m mad enough about that schedule change as it is. I paid good money for this ticket. The retired lawyer in me considers suing them for fraud, but only for a moment.

We were in Seattle in June. It was the first time I had seen my son and daughter in over ten years. As we hugged goodbye he said, see you in another ten years, Dad, his sarcasm a knife in my heart. I offered to buy them both tickets to fly to Ohio. Just let me know when you want to come. He emailed me in September that he wanted to come for Christmas. I would have paid any price for that ticket.

I used to think I was a bad husband, but a good father. Recently, I have come to the conclusion that you can’t be one without the other. We get busy with our own lives. We are self-absorbed, preoccupied and our kids suffer. It’s no wonder the children of the baby-boomers are so screwed up. They will be the first generation to be less educated than their parents. As a nation, we are going backwards. It’s because of fathers like me. I am finally ready to admit it.

My son is 33-years-old and even though he has a full-time job with benefits, which is saying a lot these days, I still worry that he’ll trip over his shoe laces, or not have enough to eat, or miss the plane that will allow me to spend time with him for the second time in six months after not having seen him for ten years.

It’s 1:45 a.m. Flight 1060 is in in the air. This time when I check, a neat little map pops up on the Website showing an airplane over Washington State pointed in the direction of Atlanta. I think I’ll go to bed now, so I can get up early and check the Website for the status of his connecting flight in the morning.

1 comment:

persephonesunset said...

As a 33 year old woman, (whose father passed away when i was 19...three days before christmas) I soooooooo appreciate this piece and your confession.
I have HUGE "issues" about being the child of a baby boomer and one of the biggest is that i never, ever see baby boomers apologize to "us", this next generation that feel like 40 year old kids. (especially our own parents, they just don't seem to be the apologetic type)
So reading this was kinda a christmas morning present to me.
Have a lovely holiday with your family. Thank you for all the work (and fun) you do bringing us the information about the town we love.