“God does not play dice with the universe…”

Albert Einstein

God made trees, forests, rivers and wildlife, to be sure. What he didn’t create, were plains, trains and automobiles. From this simple fact I deduce it was God’s will that grown children remain in the towns of their ancestors. I can no more imagine He wanted my offspring to uproot, fly, and replant states away than He wanted his Chosen People to abandon Eretz Yisrael and find other “homes” in Europe and The New World. (Ed. Note 1: Play to the end of the tape— where that bottom-feeder Modell moved the Browns out of Cleveland). With this as a backdrop, there I sat: packed in a car with my daughter, a three year old, a two-month old and a dog … heading east on the turnpike.

I knew before sunrise ‘twould be a day to remember. I knew before waking that the day’d be long, the kids would be kids, yet somehow we’d manage. Of material import: I sensed ‘ere we started that as unique as our trek would be—perhaps our once in a lifetime— that the day would be treasured.

Our game plan was simple. We would stop at the 50th annual Bohrer Family Picnic up in Highland Park, mix with the kinfolk, and then head ‘cross the country. (Ed. Note 2: Jason’s family’s get-together is truly a marvelous thing. Generations convene each July 4th —some coming from as far as Florida — and indeed the event would be perfect if only it were held indoors. (Ed. Note 3: Picnics with air-conditioning will come in my time, I predict. I’d like to be on the right side of history).

We left 3-ish from the park — Lucy facing front, Ruby facing back, Adam on my lap, and Stace behind the wheel. We arrived 10-ish — Lucy awake, Ruby asleep, Adam in back all aglow (Ed. Note 4: His roots are in Cleveland; his comfort’s there) … and up front, in the front seat: savoring both the love and the pressure of a day’s travel: two kindred spirits.

…And in the miles twixt and between, a father and daughter laughed, sang, bickered (once), and more than anything else SHARED the splendor of ordinary moments drenched in quality time:

— Me reminding Stacy as we hit the highway that she’d promised I’d enjoy total control of the radio dial.
—Lucy asking “When will we be at Grandma’s?” as we crossed into Indiana.
—Stacy driving cautiously, as caravans of cars passed on our right.

(Ed. Note 5: When you’re comfortable in your skin, as I am in mine, it permits others—especially doting daughters— to be comfortable pointing out how you can improve the skin you’re in. Consider:

“Lucy needs to use the potty,” she said. “We might as well eat.” “OK.” “There’s only a McDonald’s and Dairy Queen at this rest stop” “What do you want me to get? “Definitely not ice cream. You shouldn’t eat it and Lucy shouldn’t see you eat it. Have a salad.” “If I get the salad it will spill as you drive.”
“Then get a wrap.”

(Ed. Note 6: By now I could hear my Dad laughing. This was not going to end well, I reasoned. Sort of like when Michael and I went to the buffet breakfast in Vegas. It was Sophie’s Choice. But Yes, I was going in!).

Returning to the car minutes later I gave Adam some ice chips and wrapped him back under my left arm all-the-while delicately harnessing my inner finesse and gingerly balancing the chicken and lettuce emerging from the foil.

“If you keep your lips together,” she cautioned, “You won’t slurp.” I smiled weakly.  “Do you eat that way in front of Carrie?” She was right, I knew, so I didn’t push back—not even for the sport of it. I went, rather, in a different direction:

“NOW can I put what I want on the radio?” “Not until Lucy’s asleep, please.” (Meanwhile, as Ruby slept quietly, someone had heard her name mentioned). “I think I see Grandma’s house,” she announced in central Indiana. “That’s just a cloud,” I noted. (Ed. Note 7: A good quip, I thought. Cerebral. Apparently not. Not even a muted glare from my daughter).

Fact is I was truly enjoying the trip. We both were. Miles of sharing what H and I term the art of conversation were punctuated by me leading assorted progeny in the singing of “C is for Cookie”. (Ed. Note 8: A second verse, “P is for Pork”, DID yield that glare from my daughter). Meaningful, meaningless, and yet—oh so memorable was our discourse, the highlight being our casting a virtual biopic on Stacy’s life.

—The wheels kept rolling. Rooney refused my offers to drive, yet as we moved through the dusk, with Shirley Temple chirping in the backseat:
“You can play the radio now,” Stacy said. Rejoicing, I struck the first available button, hitting upon Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. “Leave this,” she announced as I moved to change stations, “I like this.”

Ah, but it mattered not. Part of our shtik, it was. I didn’t care so much about the radio. Not really. And she knew it.

Darkness greeted us as we pulled off the freeway. Instantaneously, or so it seemed, our day..our once in a lifetime day…was done.  Within moments Lucy was gone, Ruby was gone, Adam was gone, and my Little One, the sparkle to this long day’s journey into night, was inside her mother’ house.

I will always remember last Saturday, and the rapture it brought, and I’ll save the mosaic.  The seasons will pass; the kids will grow, but there will still be one constant: when I look through life’s rearview mirror, I’ll think not of the music-less travel, fret not o’er the meal that I missed, but see only a priceless postcard: Lucy facing front, Ruby facing back, Adam on my lap, and Stace behind the wheel.

And I’ll know that that very weekend, God rolled me a seven.


  1. stacy says:

    this is just perfect. i love you.

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