"Camping?" I don't camp." Richard said.
"Why not?" Michael asked.
"Because, I grew up in the city and city folk, we like the smell of car exhaust and having asphalt under our feet instead of grass." Richard explained.
"But Dad, I thought you said we moved out of the city so that I could experience new and better things. Camping will be new."
"So you're going to try to use my words against me, huh? Strange you never remember what I say when I tell you to do a chore around here."
"Come on Dad" Michael pleaded, It'll be fun, the other guys' dads are going and I know you wouldn't want Roger's father to think you were afraid."
"Afraid? Afraid of what? Why would he think I would be afraid?"
"Well, Roger and me sort of heard him and some of the other Dads, saying that "the big time doctor from the city would probably be afraid of the dark or bugs," or something like that."
"Really? Well, since you sort of overheard that, I hope that you know that is not the case, right?"
"I know Dad, but since we moved here, you have been busier than ever, and we hardly do anything together." Michael said with downcast eyes.
Richard watched his son move away with a dejected look on his face. He had to admit that recently his time with the family had been reduced. He had a long commute into the city and his practice had increased so that his hours were longer. At first he was glad for the increase it had enabled him to move the family out of city and he was fast becoming one of the preeminent doctors in his field.
His hope was that sacrifice now would mean a more comfortable lifestyle later, and perhaps reduced hours when he took on some partners. He was very proud of what he had accomplished in a relatively short period of time. Coming from the Bronx, being poor and no father at home he was not expected to succeed, but he had. Against all odds he made it and now he was a successful doctor with a beautiful wife and three kids.
Joan, his wife of ten years was doing a great job with the kids especially the girls. Michael his son now nine, obviously needed more of him. He thought of how he had felt when he was Michael's age with no father. He had longed to be like the other boys doing things with their fathers, even if it was just hanging out on the front stoops. Years later he promised God if he were ever blessed with children he would always be there for them.
Lately every time Michael wanted them to do something together he was too busy or too tired. Richard looked at the son that had almost caused his heart to burst with love when he was born. The unhappy expression on his son's face now filled his heart with pain.
"Hey Mike" Richard called out.
"Go get your jacket, we have to go somewhere."
"Where we going?" asked Michael.
"If we're going camping we will need supplies." Richard said.
"You mean it Dad?" Michael asked as his face brightened.
"You bet" as he playfully boxed Michael's ears, "I'll need a megawatt flashlight for the dark and tons of bug spray." Richard said winking his eye.
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