He pulls into the park-and-ride, his maroon Oldsmobile covered in dust,
the muffler rattling faintly, radio tuned to gospel music.
He is smiling. Easy to see he is excited, and I wonder why.
No young’un, this guy. Gray, thin hair wisps across a sunburned pate,
his belly rides comfortably over his belt,
and his chin has melted towards his chest.
Still, his anticipation makes him step with a spring out of the car.
He opens the back door and pulls out a pair of shoes, two overnight bags,
then looks toward the highway and at his watch. It is 8:00 pm.
Someone is supposed to be here, picking up Dad or maybe Grandpa,
and taking him…where?
To a funeral? That seems wrong given the man’s happiness. A wedding?
Who gets married on Monday? Maybe a new grandchild has arrived or maybe
Grandpa is just going for a visit. I imagine him, living alone,
eating Vienna sausages and crackers because it’s easy,
sleeping in sweats in his recliner, a man who no longer
worries about how things look or what others think.
And now he is waiting for a new adventure,
and the adventure is late arriving.
I watch this stranger pace around his car,
excitement turning to impatience, and finally to anxiety
as he scans the speeding cars.
Thirty minutes pass; a gold Buick pulls into the lot
and the old man grabs his bags and waves.
They have come, just as they said they would.
Fifty feet away, I can feel his relief.
I let out my breath.
They did not forget.