I've written before about the bond that Bud and my dad have - a bond that strengthens every day, both despite and because of the challenges that each of them faces. There's a moment that captures their relationship for me and I replay it in my mind all the time.
It was late summer and my dad had recently arrived at - or perhaps been led to - the difficult decision that it was time for him to stop driving. The truth is that it was long past time, but, anyway, the end had finally come. We had not yet gotten rid of his car, though, so it sat untouched in the driveway for several weeks.
One afternoon during that time, I was in the backyard mowing the lawn and Bud and my dad were in the front yard, where my dad was puttering in his garden with Bud's eager assistance. A short time later, I looked up from my mowing to see my dad's car slowly creeping down the street past the house - and I mean truly creeping - he couldn't have been going more than five miles an hour.
I couldn't believe it: He's sneaking out!
Then I wondered if he'd left Bud alone in the front yard. As I started to turn off the mower to investigate more closely, my dad's car stopped about 100 yards past the house, swung into a u-turn, then started creeping back up the street and past the house in the other direction.
What is he doing?, I wondered, unable to generate any theory at all.
Sure enough, though, once the car was about 100 yards past the house in the other direction, it swung in a slow U and started making it's way back. I walked out to the front of the house just as the car crept past the driveway, and there they were - Butch and Sundance - my dad doing his illicit driving and my son sitting illicitly in the always-verboten front seat next to him.
As they passed the driveway again, Bud glanced out the window and saw me. His face registered an instant "oh, crap - were busted," and then he broke into a grin and waved to me.
I waved back, then returned to my mowing and let them have their outlaw moment - especially since their particular brand of outlaw had a markedly "I'm an excellent driver - very slow on the driveway" bent to it.
I think that's the last time my dad ever drove his car.
I just hope the memory of that last ride is as precious to him as it will forever be to me.