I believe that the soul of my grandfather has been transformed into a minor parking deity. I am an educated woman. I don’t believe in numerology or astrology and I don’t have a psychic friend. And yet, in spite of its quirkiness, maybe even downright weirdness, I can’t shake this belief.
The Grandpa I knew was never in a hurry. A trip to the mall culminated with a cup of coffee and a cigarette, maybe a conversation with another older gentleman in the food court.
The journey to that point, however, he approached not only as a game, but as a kind of cosmic duel, with himself as the star combatant. The playing field was a small strip of parking lot next to the Sears Optical Center. There was no question of his parking anywhere else. That was his turf. The car (a gray Buick, no matter the year), would prowl in endless circles, then pounce on the empty spot, always in the first 5 slots near the door. To park any further away would be to admit defeat. Many times, licking my lip gloss off and fidgeting, I begged him to let me out, exasperated with his seemingly endless patience.
Thankfully, my grandfather’s patience extended to us, as well. He rescued me countless times. He bought me ice cream after a particularly rough encounter with a clique of mean ballerinas when I was five. He took me and my grandmother to their cabin in West Virginia one New Year’s Eve when I just couldn’t face being alone. He supplied the emergency $100 bill in my wallet that saved me when I found myself in Jamaica, adrift in a borrowed catamaran, needing to be towed back to shore.
Since my grandfather’s death, everyone in my family reports parking miracles as a regular occurrence. If my grandma is in the car, they are a given. The phrase “Rock Star Parking” is now a regular part of my 89 year-old grandmother’s vocabulary. If I am alone, merely running late, as usual, I don’t even pass by the front row of spots, not wanting to tempt fate or be greedy. But sometimes, life intervenes. Sometimes class starts in five minutes, a meeting ran late, and there is an overturned dune buggy on the highway. At those moment, I murmur, quietly, to myself (?), “Please, Grandpa.” It has never failed me.
Maybe it isn’t so crazy to believe that this man, who spent his life taking care of us, rescuing us, would choose to spend his after-life doing the same thing. “Is my grandpa a minor parking god in the great pantheon?” That sounds crazy. But, “Is my Grandpa still looking out for me?” The answer is, “Yes.” This, I believe.
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