Driving Dad Home: A Memoir

Halter, John

In this funny, sad, challenging, and loving saga, author John Halter embarks on a mission to rescue his 96-year-old father, Russ, from an impossible situation in a Phoenix trailer park. Russ, a Depression-era farm boy, World War II Navy veteran, and retired heavy-equipment salesman, doesn't want to leave, and to make things more difficult still, his short-term memory is fading. As father and son finally hit the road, Halter learns that the best way to coax his dad to cooperate is to get him talking about the past, and their multi-day trip across the western landscape becomes a halting but extended reminiscence about Russ's childhood and war experiences, the rich family life they shared, and the misunderstandings they found it difficult to overcome.

Readers will enjoy the stories of Halter's Roman Catholic childhood in South Minneapolis at a time when neighborhood kids of all ages roamed widely on their bikes, and a trip to Sears or the Dairy Queen in the family car was a special treat. But unresolved tensions also resurface repeatedly as Halter probes his father's dimming recall for answers to Russ's twisted sense of humor and his hot-and-cold attitude toward his son. As journalist and author Lori Sturdevant puts it: "This emotion-packed tale will touch anyone who has endured a difficult relationship with a parent or has helplessly watched a loved one slip into dementia ... Halter has given readers of a certain age the gift of knowing they are not alone."