Midway through our trip to visit America’s Team, I swiped through some photos on my phone. I noticed I had a bigger build than Dad. Time shrunk him. Though he has gotten older, he always seems to have a backup battery generator that got him through activities.
When I looked at photos of Dad on the Dallas Cowboys field at AT&T Stadium, he had often posed with one knee on the ground with his fingers running through the turf. Dad smiled big each time. Maybe he couldn’t believe he was actually there. He was happy. He was home.
Winning the lottery is something Dad talks about a lot. Ever since I was little, I listened as he spoke about what he’d do if he had the money to do this or that. He mentioned the big houses he wanted and the big car garages that came with them.
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When the Cowboys and Giants players were warming up prior to the game, Dad talked about winning the lottery again. As we watched quarterback Eli Manning warm up with wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., he pointed over towards the premium box seats just across the stadium. If he had the lottery winnings, he said, he would buy season tickets for the family. We’d attend every game. Together.
He also talked about buying a house for each of his kids. The homes would be next to each other. I realized Dad’s lottery dream wasn’t about the cash or the material things that go with it. Dad’s version of winning the lottery is being closer to his kids.
One week ago I was in Costa Rica with my niece. One night, she had a lot of things on her mind. We talked about her school and the life she was living as a college student. We exchanged family memories with lots of laughs. This was when she pulled out a bad memory I had archived deep down inside.
The story goes like this: My younger brother and Dad had a fight. The cause of the fight wasn’t a big deal, but emotions ran high. My brother, the youngest of the four, walked away with the resolution that he would move out. He was the last child living in the house with Dad. I knew this story well, but as my niece explained it to me it felt like watching an old DVD again.
Realizing that he was going to be alone without any kids in the house, Dad jumped into his car. He hopped on the highway. He drove until the city buildings were in his rear view mirror and landscape changed to farm land. After a short drive, he reached his destination. It was a rest area stop he used to take his kids to.
Dad parked the car. He cried.
Next: Taking Dad to his first Cowboys game continued