“Old as she was, she still missed her daddy sometimes.” ~ Gloria Naylor
Most people spend much of their time in a horizontal thought process. We move along connecting the dots of one moment to another, on cruise control, until something happens that causes us to stop. I used to think of this as a roadblock. I know now it’s God’s hand. We are forced to be still. We lose ourselves in the familiarity of something that stirs our senses – the shrill of a child’s laughter, the scent of fresh lilac, watching a snowflake drift — and follow the memory home.
It was a Saturday morning in February and everything on the New Jersey shore had come to a halt, the aftermath of the worse blizzard we’ve seen in years. I was in bed somewhere between sleep and consciousness, content in the knowledge there was no need to move. Mother Nature had spread a thick, white comforter over the winter uglies, giving the dead, gray leftovers of the previous seasons life and beauty of its own. I was the only one in the world and it was at peace.
My euphoric moment was short lived. I was jolted out of bliss by the sound of steel on concrete. Begrudgingly, I walked to the window to spy the thief robbing me of my pleasure. Below was an older man, in a plaid jacket, silver hair peeking from beneath a navy wool hat. It was evident from the amount of walkway cleared that he had been there for some time. It was also evident from the clouds of smoke created from his hot breath hitting the arctic blast that he was tiring. My first instinct was to tap on the glass, pull on my jeans and go out to assist him. But I hesitated and stood silently watching as he continued to dig through several feet of white powder to my front door. When he was finished he returned his shovel to his trunk and took out a bag of rock salt, tossing it over the freshly cleared path and porch. I expected a knock at my door, to share a cup of hot coffee. Instead he turned, got into his car and drove off without announcing he was ever there or crediting himself for all the work he just did.
I remained at the window for a long time afterward, frozen not by the cold weather but by the warmth of a father’s love, wondering how many things my father had done for me while I wasn’t looking.