The ringtone for my phone went off and played the familiar tune of the University of Michigan fight song. Only two people in the whole world are privileged enough to have that ringtone, my oldest daughter Stephanie (Michigan, ’05) and my youngest son Joe (Michigan, ’11).
I smiled at the sound like I always do, because I know it is one of my children calling their Pops. I wasn’t sure which one it was until I answered and heard the familiar baritone of my 29-year old Joe.
“Hi Dad!” was the overly friendly greeting. “How are you doing?”
The excitement of answering the call quickly turned to suspicion, because whenever my boys call me and they’re overly excited and friendly it means they want something.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I think parents can tell when their children are either up to something or want something. This was no exception.
“I’m doing fine,” I responded coyly. “What’s up with you?”
“I’m going to be back in Baton Rouge on Labor Day weekend, and I was just wondering if you were going to be around,” came the overly pleasant reply.
I momentarily lost my suspicious mind, made a mental check of my non-existent social calendar for Labor Day, and proudly answered by saying that I was completely free the entire weekend.
“I have absolutely nothing on my schedule; I’m free all weekend,’’ I enthusiastically replied.
That’s when the little devil stuck the dagger in.
“Great! Gabrielle and I are coming down from D.C. to clean out my apartment and load everything back up and take it back to northern Virginia,” came the evil response. “I was just wondering if you could drive over and help us load?”
So there it was — completely out in the open. No, “Hey Dad let’s get together and watch the Michigan-Notre Dame game together,” or “Let’s go hang out in New Orleans.”
Nope, it was none of that. I was only needed to be a beast of burden. Seven hours of driving. Lots of heavy lifting. What fun.
“Yup, I’ll be there,” was all I could gasp.
“Great! See you on Friday night the 31st of August! Bye!” he exclaimed.
And just like that, poof, he was gone.
Well, what are you really going to say to your son? He lives 1,700 miles away, and any chance a parent can realistically get to spend time with their offspring is an opportunity you have to seize. Carpe diem, or something like that.
So this old geezer got in his vehicle and drove 405 miles one way to help his son and his girlfriend load up “his gear.” He carried the heavy stuff, and Gabby and I waddled around like the pack mules we were. Finally, everything was loaded and I was ready to collapse.
That’s when he made his Pappy proud.
He stuck out his hand for me to shake, then said all he needed to: “Thanks Dad. Thanks always for being there for me. I really appreciate it.”
Well, it might not be much to you, but the return trip of 405 miles through blinding rain (especially the monsoon in Beaumont) seemed a little less burdensome when all was said and done. He is a grown man, strong as an ox, but was gracious and thankful at the end.
No Dad could be prouder.
Now, if only Michigan could have beaten Notre Dame, it would have been a perfect weekend. Oh well, I’ll have to root for the Aggies this weekend at Kyle Field against Dabo and Clemson. Gig ‘em Ags!