“I won the lottery,” says Dad on our way to his bi-annual high school luncheon.
I had nearly died 5 times already that morning, driving to the Tsawwassen Ferry parking lot to catch the 9am ferry. A nervous driver when not on the island, my sweaty hands clenched the steering wheel as my knuckles throbbed, navigating the pitch black torrential rain, lightning, puddles on the highway, and the traffic accident in the Massey tunnel. The shiny pavement masking the painted lanes, the near miss turn offs, and the voices in my head telling me to screw it all and cause an accident. It was a rough start.
“A free ticket,” says Dad, smirking.
We take the slow scenic route to Victoria, West Saanich Rd on a beautiful autumn day, a few clouds but no rain.
“She’s finally buried the hatchet,” says Dad about Mum, as though he hadn’t spent my childhood slagging her off to me.
“I’ve decided you have to keep learning in this life,” I say, bragging about my latest personal development plans.
“I’m just trying to keep breathing,” replies Dad.
We park at the hotel, and are the first to arrive in the lobby.
“I challenge you,” says Dad waving his cane at an unknown Vic High classmate struggling with her crooked back and specialty cane to get in the door of the hotel.
She doesn’t know him to find him funny.
“Good bunch of people,” he says after lunch.
“Most people are,” he continues, “Wouldn’t be able to live in this world if they weren’t.”
We talk about the attack on Parliament Hill the day before.
“Extremists aren’t Muslim,” says Dad, “Just like those who burned people at the stake weren’t Christians.”
We take the Pat Bay Highway to pick up Mum and drop me back off at the ferry.
“Look at those blue skies,” he says, patting my arm sympathetically, “Have fun back in Vancouver.”
Mum climbs into the car.
“You look beautiful Mum,” I say.
“Bullshit artist,” says Dad, “She was married to a top bullshit artist. She won’t fall for that.”
Mum rolls her eyes back and forth, and then back and forth again.
I ask Dad if he needs to use a washroom. He doesn’t.
“He must have a big bladder from all his drinking,” says Mum.
“See? It was a good investment,” replies Dad.
I get out of the car at the ferry drop off.
“When are you back?” asks Dad.
“Two weeks,” I reply.
“I’ll count the days,” he says.
“Yes he will,” says Mum.
“Am I driving or are you?” Dad asks Mum as she makes her way to the driver’s seat.
“Talk to me,” he says, and I laugh and join him in unison.
“How can we have a meaningful relationship if you don’t talk to me?”
Keep breathing Papa.