Holiday Morning

I think of the piercing ring of the rotary phone: the wake-up call in the heavy-draped darkness of our room at The Holiday Inn.

This is Oil City, Pennsylvania, halfway to my Mom’s hometown in Ohio where we journeyed most summers of my childhood.

This morning, I thought of those trips, those first moments after waking, my sister and I sharing the double bed next to my parents. I hear Dad grab the phone from its cradle, groggily but politely muttering, “thank you” to the operator, clumsily replacing the receiver. I remember his eyes, slightly swollen with sleep, his sheet-creased face. I remember the sound of running water, as he showered, then shaved, brushed his teeth, and combed his hair, in his underwear and dark socks.

I think of the sounds and face he made when he splashed on his aftershave, a combination of “brrrrr” and a groan, a shake of the head, a furrowed brow, a wink thrown over his shoulder to me, and done. I remember he was ready before any of us, strategically packing the car to accommodate the largest amount of stuff. I remember his hand on the top of my head, warm, heavy, steady, as we walked into the coffee shop for breakfast and continued down the road.