It's the theme song to Dad's life. He and Mom have always been drivers, as likely to dash to Vermont for the day (5 hours driving) as they are to dash to Lincroft (5 minutes driving). When I was a kid, I didn't think there was anything extraordinary about loading into the car every weekend to log several hundred miles for two days of skiing. Six weeks in a van, driving around the country, was just another Oberle (or Griswold) vacation. Now that I am a parent, I recognize the trips for what they were - Herculean efforts made by my parents, with Dad at the wheel and Mom forever riding shotgun but never getting full control of the radio, to score family time. That, or acts of sheer lunacy. I prefer the former classification to the later.
Dad's and Mom's ramblin' ways hit a snag when Dad got sick. It was tough to work up the stamina for 6 hours of driving, let alone any sort of recreational activity, when he hadn't eaten a proper meal in 3 months.
But no more.
The foot is back on the gas pedal and even though he sometimes relinquishes the steering wheel (but never control) to Mom, I feel pretty confident saying he's back to his old ways.
He went to Vermont to take some turns with an old friend from the Ski Club (apparently it was quite cold, but he pressed on). He and one of my uncles took a bus trip to ski in New York (apparently it was pea soup fog and pissing down rain, but he pressed on). He made plans to take my daughter skiing in Connecticut, but when the forecast called for sub-zero temperatures before the wind-chill, he wised up and turned south.
Tuesday I met him and Mom and Christian at Sloan for his IV chemo. I like having the chance to spend some time with him and Mom when they're in the city for his treatments, but I had special motivation to see them this week. They were planning to finish his IV, go home, load the car (an energy-efficient Hybrid, I am proud to report) and leave before sunrise Wednesday for a road-trip down the East Coast to Charleston and from Charleston to Miami.
Yes - Dad and Mom are driving to Florida. I could be mistaken, but I think I was in grammar school the last time they drove to Florida. I also think there was a reason we didn't do it again - it's a really long drive.
So I met them at the hospital to spend some time and to say "bon voyage." Dad looks fantastic. His weigh-in showed that he and I are still going pound-for-pound. No, I still won't tell you how many pounds we're currently packing, but it's awesome for him and worthy of a few post-baby visits to the personal trainer for me.
He still isn't having terrible side effects from the chemo, which is great. Curiously, he gets associative nausea when he enters the IV treatment area, but I am trying to figure out a way to make that stop. The continuing nature of the treatments - meaning that they are going to be doing chemo for two weeks out of every three for the foreseeable future - is always a little tough to embrace, but we all know that the chemo is treating him far better than the cancer did, so we grin and bear it, re-fill the prescriptions and plug in to the drip once again.
Dad took his IV and, when it was done, grabbed his coat and hat and with a "C'mon, I'll give you a lift home," was out the door in a shot. Mom and I were scrambling in his wake. They drove me across town and deposited me at my building. Then, with a kiss on the cheek and a "see you later!" they were gone, bouncing off through the snow, on their way to Jersey and from there to warmer climes.
I was left standing on the side of 73rd street, scratching my head and wondering precisely what super-strong stuff was forged into their souls when they were created. I just don't know any other people like them. I wish I could say I weather adversity as well and as gracefully as they do, but I know I don't.
I'm just a big old baby.
Who was more than a little bit jealous on Wednesday morning, when I awoke to find the temperature in New York barely out of the single digits and Mom and Dad were already nosing their way into Baltimore.
I checked in with them a few times during the day - greetings from Virginia - we're in North Carolina - hi, we're in Charleston. I know Dad gave Mom at least one opportunity to use the bathroom during the trip (once we get going, Oberles do not stop) because they had to re-fuel the hybrid once en route, but beyond that, they seem to have put the pedal down and gone.
Just like they would have done 20 years ago - except our old Chevy van would have needed many more fuel stops.