My father went to Afghanistan just two months after my family and I moved back to the States from Heidelberg, Germany in 2005. Although he had a 2 week leave around Christmas time, he missed our entire school year. This cycle repeated starting my 6th grade year up to my now senior year. I miss my father a lot, because we always have fun with him. Therefore, when he comes home, we squeeze in as much fun as possible.
In the summer of 2008, family moved into our first house. My dad could not be there with us, but he was excited when we spoke over the phone. He told my younger brother and me that when he came home we were going to celebrate. And we did just that. In the summer of 2009 we took a trip to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, making this our first family vacation since my father's deployment. We saw lots of attractions and rides but due to both my parents' fear of roller coasters and my fear of being alone, we didn’t ride many rides. But in the Spirit of Vacation, I convinced my dad to ride a stomach turning lightning speed rollercoaster called the Dueling Dragon. It was a super-speed thriller that had to dragons, a red and blue, for passengers to ride on and they shoot out of the boarding station in different directions and as they speed around the track the constantly approach each other, avoiding collision by what seems to be inches. The ride was so fast and so much fun. We both Screamed and laughed at each other screaming until the ride was finally over.
After getting off of the Dueling Dragon Ride, my whole family felt hot and thirsty: my father and I because our mouths were dry from screaming, and my mother and my brother's from sweating in the sun waiting for my father and me to get off the ride. So we proceeded to the Lemonade Sand which was ride around the corner from the line to the Dueling Dragon. And as we were drinking, my father became very sweaty and his eyes turned red. I knew what was about to happen. My father, trying to maintain his composure, dabbed his face and forehead with napkins to suppress his nauseation. He tried to stand up but he became slightly dizzy and had to sit back down. My mother looked at my father and asked him was he alright. But before my father could answer, he looked around frantically ran to the nearest Trash can and regurgitated our waffles and hash brown breakfast we had eaten from the Waffle House down the street from our hotel. My brother and I Laughed so hard we started to cry. My mom, trying to console my father, had to place her hand over her mouth to hide her laughter. Thirty minutes and a glass of ice water later, my dad was feeling much better. We continued to walk through the park, but neglected attempting anymore roller coasters. We just enjoyed the time we had left with our favorite man.
The next week, my father had to return to Afghanistan. My whole family was very sad. My mother had to fight her tears as we drove to the airport. As we arrived and checked my father's bags, we hugged him and said our good-byes. I wasn't at all ready for him to leave. I looked at his face and I knew he didn’t want to see me cry, so I forced a smile. My brother understood what I was doing and forced one as well. But my mother could not follow along. She burst into tears. But my father knew he couldn't leave my mom in that condition. He had to make her smile. He looked at her, looked around to make sure no others were watching, and made the same nauseated face he made at Universal Studios, ran to the nearest Trash can and pretended to throw up. My brother and I laughed hysterically once again. And after realizing what was going on, so did my mother. That moment of happiness made me realize that it's not how much time you spend with the people you love, it's what you do in that time that makes the time special. I love my father for teaching me that.
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