Two hours wasn’t really that much of a drive, when he thought about it. Sure, it wasn’t his first pick of the way to spend a Friday night after a long week at work, but it wouldn’t kill him either. He should be doing it more often. After all, it was worth a minor inconvenience when he considered how much it meant to his dad.
Todd peered out into the gathering dusk. It was that odd time of evening when it was too dark to go without headlights and still to light for the headlights to make a lot of difference. There was next to no traffic and the road reached ahead to the Bradshaw Mountains where he was headed. On either side, the sage and creosote scrub was fading into indistinct shadows and, to his left, the western sky was painted with the glorious orange, pink, yellow, green, and violet of a desert sunset. He smiled. There really just wasn’t anything like an Arizona sunset.
When he was a child, he would make this same drive with his parents and older sister, Angie. Then, they were on their way to visit his grandparents. Todd could remember how his parents would plan the visit when they thought Todd and Angie were occupied with the radio or their video games.
“If you and the kids can keep Dad entertained,” his dad would say, “I’ll try to get the gutters cleaned out before Mom gets lunch going. I’m not all that keen on either one of them being up on a ladder anymore.”
“Maybe I can get your mom to teach the kids a new card game,” his mom would reply. “It means so much to her to have that time with them.”
Todd didn’t think much of it at the time. Of course, at the end of any visit, there was a discussion about when they would come again. In fact, Grandpa had always been really persistent about setting a date and time. Todd had always written that off as “just the way Grandpa was” but tonight, as he drove toward his father’s house, he had a different understanding.
The realization was even more powerful as Todd pulled into his father’s drive. Dad was already waiting on the front porch, looking more like Grandpa than he ever had before. Even his eager, welcoming smile was the same. In that moment, Todd grasped the truly important point. It did mean a lot to his father to have Todd come to visit. But, it meant every bit as much to himself. There was a sense of continuity, of coming round right, that filled him with a deep contentment.
“Hey, Dad,” called Todd, as he climbed out of the car. “It’s good to see you.”