The day was sunny, but cool enough to wear a suit without sweating. I'd felt restless driving to the service, attended by only a small collection of our extended family. Now that we were done telling stories and singing a few songs, I was ready to leave.
I'd offered to take the first leg of the three-hour return drive home with my dad. Flipping through his appointment book as I drove, he looked good—well, better. His final course of chemotherapy had just ended, and there was a chance that the cancer wouldn't come back. We'd just have to wait and see.
We passed a sign for the intersection with East 196. "Do I make a right up here?" I asked. I'd been to Williams-town a handful of times before, but I asked just to be sure.
"Yeah," he said without looking up.
We turned off Maine Street with its proudly middle-class colonial homes, and onto 196, a wooded, winding road, which would eventually connect us back to the interstate. The pavement was freshly tarred and painted, and the yellow lines shone brightly as they darted along the black pitch.
"So, Mike, talk to me." Finished with his appointment book, Dad now wanted to have one of those conversations. I felt a slight smile creep onto my face as I sensed a familiar ritual begin to unfold.
"About what?" I said, priming the inevitable response.
"About you! What's going on? How you're feeling about graduate school, Lindsay, me, us, the family,…