broke down

by Steven J. Serafiani

the only time I’ve seen my father cry
I was 19
it was early dawn
the sun was peeking
in between yawns I would go out into the humid summer air
and load my girlfriends car with the last of my possessions
we were on our way to florida
young and eager
in love
I came back in and gave my mom a kiss on the cheek
she sniffled her way to the kitchen
“give me a call every few hours,” she beckoned
my dad sat in the living room
read his devotional
the one I bought him for his birthday a few years back
“alright, I’m heading out,” I said to him
my dad shut his book, stood up and joined me in the foyer
we stood a few feet apart
he looked down for a few moments
then went in to a story of how he helped a young college man whose car broke down a few months back
he was driving by on his motorcycle and stopped
he went to a gas station, bought a gas can and filled it,
when he got back to the car, the young kid was so grateful
said he didn’t have any money to give him
my dad said not to worry about it
he has told me this story before but with a different tone
one of happiness
this time around it was somber
when he got to the end of the story he began crying
stammered out the rest of the story in tears
then told me he loved me and wished me luck on my adventure
I hugged him
hard
and he hugged back
hard
you see my father isn’t a verbal man when it comes to his love for his kids
it always has been handshakes and generalities
I’m sure it was because of his father
but I knew he loved me
I knew
and to see my old man in tears that late august morning
meant the world to me.

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