Many hours will pass before she arrives home, but already he is preparing. “What are you looking for Dad?” I ask, when I find him on his knees in the hallway rummaging through the closet. He pulls out a 1970s style white-trimmed, maroon cloth umbrella. “Look at this goodie!” he delights. “I need an umbrella to help Mom in.” An unseasonably warm rain is falling, and the house is stifling with thick October humidity. He returns to his chair by the window to keep watch.
When he finally spies the van delivering her home, he will shout through the house “Mom is home! Mom is home!” and leap out the front door, racing toward the large white vehicle parked on our corner. The driver will have risen from his seat and will be coaxing Momma from hers. She won’t move from it, but just sit there and giggle thinking he is flirting. I will run out behind dad and bypass him as he stands expectantly at the curb. I will climb aboard the van, grab Momma’s hand, and say “You’re home Momma. You’re home Nancy. Dad’s waiting girl. Let’s go.” I will pull her hood atop her head, lead her from her seat, and thank the driver as we climb off. “Welcome home my girl. Welcome home my sweetie,” Dad will say with exquisite tenderness, holding the umbrella above her while getting poured on himself. She won’t regard him standing there. Will hurry past him as if he wasn’t. Fleeing toward the house, leaving him alone with an outstretched arm. I leave him too and rush after her. When he makes it inside a minute later, I won’t be sure whether those are raindrops or tears on his face.