My dad’s birthday falls around Thanksgiving. It lands square on it every few years. This is one of those years (Happy Birthday, Pops!).
I don’t think he minds sharing the day with Thanksgiving because my dad likes to eat. In fact, that picture above represents my father at one of his happiest moments: four bites into a fresh piece of lefse. I can almost guarantee he will experience this moment again sometime today because lefse is a holiday tradition.
Since I’m trying to tie everything back to “The Kindness of Strangers” to remind you (without being incredibly annoying) to listen, buy, or share the song—I thought I’d retell a memory about my dad being a kind stranger. Well, not to me since he’s my dad and all. But to other folks. (He is kind to me, though, in case that wasn’t clear.)
So this one winter, my family was driving home after dark. We’d reached the west edge of town and two men were walking on the right shoulder of the road.
“Hop in the backseat,” he told my sister, sitting next to me. She climbed over and sat next to my other two sisters.
My dad pulled our minivan alongside the two men, turned on the interior light, and waved them in like they were old buddies from high school.
That’s probably one big difference between me and my dad, if you want to know the truth. Strangers like these? He imagines them as future friends. I imagine them as current serial killers.
Anyway, the two men squeezed beside me on the bench seat, smelling of beer and cigarettes. We drove along, and my dad made small talk while I waited to die. He asked them where they wanted to be dropped off, and I prayed they wouldn’t say New York City. My dad’s altruism often knows no bounds. About to die or not, I was feeling squished.
Thankfully, they just wanted to go to the gas station. Also thankfully, they were not serial killers. If I had to guess, I’d say they’re probably actual friends of my dad’s now that send him invites to Thanksgiving every year.
P.S. I just saw this video below on my iPhone, so I thought I’d share it as well. Siri thinks this curated slideshow best represents my dad. I can’t say that I disagree. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, and Happy Birthday, Dad.