Defending Dads

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Forty-One Years Gone Epilogue

The morning of October 1, my phone’s alarm brought me back into consciousness seconds after 5 AM. It took a few more seconds to gather my wits.

My minivan is comfortable, but no one would mistake it for a motel room. Sleeping on the reclined driver’s seat left my joints stiff. Hours of lifting heavy objects the day before left my muscles achy. My tongue was a piece of sand paper coated with dry wall dust. My clothing reeked of sweat and the skin beneath it was clammy.

I had fallen asleep with the radio tuned into a comedy channel on SiriusXM. A comic was doing a bit about married life. Some of it was funny, but I wasn’t laughing.

A glance through the windshield reminded me that I was in a commuter parking lot in Nyack, New York. Dawn was still maybe an hour hence and the temperature had dipped into the 50s.

I thought how other people might think it strange to wake up under such circumstances, but this was my world where waking up on a space station is not out of the question. As soon as I was fully oriented, I turned the key in the ignition and got moving.

About thirty minutes later, I was visiting my U-Haul where I had parked it the night before. I lifted the gate on the cargo area to see that the things inside were still inside. Breakfast time.

I ate at a small diner at the corner of Walton Avenue and E. 149th St. I puzzled over where to put the stuff still on the truck. Two days prior, I had reserved a unit, but the reservation was now expired. No worries; I had my smartphone. A few taps later, I had a new unit reserved in a facility less than a mile from where I sat. The place opened at 8 and it was already approaching 7. Time to call Curtis.

A surprised and sleepy Curtis told me he’d throw on some clothes and be ready quick. Best news I’d heard that morning.

By 9 AM, we were at the storage place and I was signing papers. The counter person gave us an orientation as we toured the available inventory. We settled on an asymmetrical unit with a wide gate for easy access. The U-Haul sat two blocks away. I whipped it around, backed it into the loading dock and Curtis and I set to.

By 12:30 PM, the U-Haul was empty. We had only to arrange things in the storage box, then load my minivan with a few items for my mother and trash, which had become a challenge. Neither the management at my grandmother’s building nor the storage facility would handle it. My only option was to haul it out to Pennsylvania and dispose of it there.

U-Haul had left me a voicemail advising that the truck had been with us 2 days longer than contracted for. I had to get it back, so I left Curt to close up the unit and load my minivan.

It took longer to drive to the U-Haul store than to check in the truck. I was elated. On the walk back to the storage place, I grabbed a couple of ice-cold sodas for Curt and me. At the unit, I saw that Curt had loaded everything…except a single decorative chair.

If anyone thought I was going to let that chair stop Curt and me from getting up outta there, they don’t know me. We shifted some items, made a space up high and hoisted the chair up into it.

Down went the gate one final, triumphant time. Our victory meal was kebabs and hot sausage from a favorite food cart chased by a few shots of vodka.

The hardest part of the job is finally over, but I still need to deal with the stuff in the unit and it’s an extra bill that I can ill afford. Nevertheless, my grandmother’s possessions are with the family where they belong.

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