The surrealist André Breton said that the world “is a forest of signs.” When we trust and follow intuition, we’re more easily able to recognize those signs. Or when someone we love dies and that loss causes the firm line between the living and the dead to blur. As is my case these days, following the death last Sunday of my father. For the first few days after his death, I felt my father lodged in my heart, now he’s not so near, but not so far, either, apparently…
In 1967, when I was 11 and my sister was 7, my folks bought a brand new green VW Bug, a rather small car for a family of four inclusive of two growing daughters. My parents wanted a change, and apparently, they wanted a big change, so in that small car we drove west from Chicago to California. My sister liked the jump-seat best, that narrow space right behind the back seat where she fit perfectly. I commandeered the back seat. From the passenger seat, my mother read storybook after storybook to keep us kids amused during the many hours, the many days we spent driving—that little car wasn’t known for speed.
My father loved that car! Several years later, when my parents divorced, that car began just his. My bigger-than-life father worked at Stevenson College, and once a group of students looking to shake things up “stole” my father’s car, painted it like a piece of abstract art and drove it onto the stage in the school dining hall! How did they manage that? My dad, who was quite the trickster, though not with his daughters, must have roared with laughter. I’d have loved to have seen the look on his face!
Yesterday, heading to the farmers’ market, in the lane to my right, what did I see, but an old VW Bug! I take it as a sign that wherever my dad is, he’s driving again, that the coast is clear and the road is open, the windows wide to the air, the sun bright. He’d want me to know that he’s at ease, in no hurry, happy, once again, to be back behind the wheel.