My father was proud of his Illinois license plate number. All of his cars were Illinois 51 300, a number so low it marked him as a long-time resident of the state. Mother kept that number after Dad died, finally giving it up when she quit driving ten years later. We took family car trips in the 51 300 cars, including many trips to Minnesota to visit the uncles, aunts, and cousins in the extended family home country.  On our longest trip, we drove across the top of the US to get to Vancouver, British Columbia, and then headed back across Canada, dipping back south as we got to the northern side of the Great Lakes. Dad loved to drive. I remember the comfort of listening to Dad and Mom’s voices talking quietly to each other as I snoozed in the back seat, secure in the parental love that encircled me.

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