Vitauts and the Flat Tire (Take 5)

Vitauts and the Flat Tire (Take 5)

Vitauts Blog - 1 (4)My dad moved in with me two years after Liesma died. We had to clean out the parsonage, but that’s another story.

He has been driving the same 1993 Maroon Mercury Grand Marquis for about twenty years, and at 231,000 miles, it’s doing pretty well for its age. I could say the same about Vitauts.

On any given Sunday, dad might decide to drive to Lincoln to go to church. The Latvian church has two English services and two Latvian services a month, give or take. Generally, we try to go with him to the English services, at least a few of us do. But none of us really want to go to the Latvian services, so sometimes he drives to Lincoln on his own.

Omaha to Lincoln is about fifty miles, and dad will say he’s driven the road “a thousand times.” And he’s right, I’m sure he has. On this particular Sunday, however, the road was not kind to him. I got the phone call at about 8:30 or so. Church didn’t start until 10 a.m., but dad was always in a hurry and early for things. He can’t stand to wait around. “Jeff, I am stranded,” he told me. He had suffered a flat tire outside of Greenwood, but he couldn’t change the tire himself.

Kyle, my son, lives in Ashland which is a stone’s throw away from where dad was, so I decided to give him a call to see if he could help. Maybe that makes me selfish, but it just seemed to make a lot more sense than me, driving forty minutes to save him. It was a hot morning, and I didn’t want dad standing out on the interstate alone any longer than he had to.

Kyle was more than up to the task. He jumped at the opportunity to help. Dad came home about an hour later; he had given up on going to Lincoln at all. The car was no worse for wear, but I was worried that if one tire was going to blow out, then wouldn’t the others surely follow?

He took it to Firestone the next day and had a new tire put on. Apparently all is well because he hasn’t had another tire issue for months. We’re crossing our fingers on this.

The fun part of the story is that when his car broke down again just recently, he actually called Kyle himself. He did that because when he retells the story of the flat tire, Vitauts was the one who called my son, not me. And when he repeats this over and over, I start to doubt my own memory, but I’m certain that dad would  not have called Kyle. In fact, I’m fairly certain that at the time he wouldn’t have even had Kyle’s number on his phone. But Kyle was dad’s new hero, and in his fading memory, he had created a story that was bigger than reality and more permanent than any recollection.

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