When I was 19, my dad received a promotion, and our family relocated from Connecticut to Massachusetts. On departure day, after the moving van was loaded with all of our possessions, we split up into two separate groups. My sister and I rode with Dad in one car; our brother rode with Mom, our grandmother and the family dog, Trixie, in the other. Mom and Dad had agreed to pull off the interstate after the New Haven tolls to take a quick break before continuing on. We were going to spend the night in a motel in the new town and meet the movers at the house the following morning.

When Jamie Cypher’s family drove from Connecticut to their new home in Massachusetts in two different cars and Cypher’s mother didn’t appear at the spot where the family had agreed to take a quick break, Cypher’s father quickly made two difficult decisions. Song_about_summer/Shutterstock.com

We hit the road just after 3 p.m. After an hour, we lost sight of Mom in the heavy traffic. Dad pulled over in the agreed-upon spot to wait for her. She didn’t show. After 15 minutes passed, Dad made the first of two difficult decisions that day. He left my 12-year-old sister and me on the side of the road to watch for Mom while he got off at the next exit and backtracked to find her. We kept an eye out for her car in the endless parade of vehicles zooming past but never spotted her. Incredibly, no one gave us a second glance or even stopped to find out why two young girls were sitting on the side of I-95 during rush hour. I was relieved when Dad returned to us but troubled when he said he hadn’t see any sign of her either.

“What are we going to do?” I anxiously asked him as we got back into the car. He gazed at the passing traffic in silence. After a few moments, he made his second difficult decision of the day.

“We go on,” he replied calmly.  “She probably forgot to stop, but keep looking for her.”

As Dad drove on, I imagined all kinds of horrible things that could have happened. When we saw emergency lights up ahead in Providence, Rhode Island, I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Thankfully, it wasn’t them. I glanced over at Dad and wondered how he could remain so calm in the face of such uncertainty.

When we finally pulled into the motel, there they were! Apparently Mom had gotten ahead of us somehow and stopped in a different location along the highway. When we didn’t show, she decided to head to the motel.

That day imprinted upon me a valuable lesson for my own life. When faced with a difficult decision, my first thought has usually been, what would Dad do? The answer: Try to stay calm. Consider the facts at hand, review my options based on that knowledge and make the best decision possible. Keep moving forward. And sometimes, if you’re really lucky, things just might work out OK.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: