Sunday, May 23, 2010

Laughing, Living, and Falling Through the Roof...

My Dad died six years ago today.

I have 33 years of memories of my Dad (that's more than a lot of people have, and I'm always grateful that I had my Dad with me for so long), and naturally, today is kind of a reflective day for me.

Just a few random thoughts about my Dad:

Living with my Dad wasn't always easy; he was a man's man who grew up on a farm in the 40's and 50's, and he didn't hesitate to mete out justice when it was deserved. He was also a fair man, and I will admit to fully earning every punishment he brought down.

My Dad was a Vietnam veteran. He didn't talk about it much, but whenever I was tempted to mouth off, I would stop and think "Wait a minute. My father...has killed people. I need to stop talking now."

My brother never did quite get this, but somehow managed to survive into adulthood.

I remember once when my brother was about ten, he and one of his friends made a lot of phone calls to that "Psychic Friends" hotline (I don't remember exactly how much it came up to, but I bought my first car for less. I'm not kidding.), and none of us knew about it until my Dad got the phone bill.

I had the good fortune to be sitting with my Dad at the table when he opened the bill. He calmly read the contents of each page. Then he quietly got up, walked to the refrigerator, got a beer, and headed to the back door.

"I'm going to go sit out in the garage for a while, son."

"Why, Dad? What's up?"

"I'm going out there so I don't kill the Boy."

Amazing that none of Dionne Warwick's psychic friends warned my brother that "your father will pick up a car and slay you."

Also amazingly, the Boy lived (though the quality of that life was questionable for a while).

I remember once when I was, I think, fifteen. I got home from school, and realized that I had forgotten to take my keys with me that morning, so I was locked out. "No problem," I thought. "I'll just sit here and read, and Dad'll be home in an hour or so."

For some reason, I decided to climb up on the roof of the porch, and do my reading there. I don't know why; I was fifteen and did a lot of stupid things for no apparent reason.

I shimmied up the support column and got onto the roof. My plan of sitting there, peacefully reading, would have worked had it not been for two things:

1. The wood on this section of the porch roof was very old, and

2. I was a very...large...kid.

I was taking a step when one leg went through, and I couldn't get the leverage to get unstuck, so I sat there for an hour and a half, my left leg stretched out before me, my right leg dangling through the newly-formed hole, a Nike-clad pinata just waiting for someone to come along with a stick.

When my Dad got home, he stopped and looked up at me from the sidewalk in front of the house.

"Having *snicker* some problems, Son? *chortle*"

"Don't laugh, Dad. This isn't funny."

"Oh, it's funny from down here. Believe me, Son, I'm not laughing with you..."

He then walked over and poked my leg. It had fallen asleep long before, and the movement caused a wave of pins and needles to race up and down my poor, defenseless appendage.

I could hear his peculiar, infectious cackle (hee-hee-hee-SNORT-hee-hee-hee-SNORT) trailing behind him as he went to the garage to get the ladder and rescue me.

I'm laughing as I write this, because that's what I remember most about my Dad.

Laughter. Lots of it.

I didn't inherit his cooking skills (not completely; I'm good, and I can turn a mean flapjack, but as my friend Rob says, "No one made pancakes like your Dad."), and I didn't inherit any money or cars or anything like that.

My Dad left me his laugh.

When something strikes me as funny (and being me, something strikes me as funny every day, folks), I let out my Dad's hee-hee-hee-SNORT.

It's a priceless gift, this laugh, along with the desire and ability to share it with others, like my Dad did.

Today isn't a day for mourning my Dad's death.

Today is a day for celebrating my Dad's life.

People are born, and people die; everything else comes in between.

My Dad had a good "in between".

I hope you've had a chuckle or two while reading this, because that means, even though he's been gone for six years now, my Dad is still making people laugh.

He'd like that.

Thanks for reading my ranting,



  1. That's quite a tribute, Brad. Way to go for finding some humorous anecdotes for remembrances. Hehe.

  2. Thanks, Jaleh. My Dad was a funny guy, and made my childhood fun.

  3. I did love this post! There are good things and bad things we can all find in our parents (or in any other person) at times, but its always better (and much more fun) to remember the good things, and you seem to have done a really good job with that.

  4. Wish I could have met him.

    I actually say that to Joe quite a bit as well, regarding *his* dad (who I never met). Joe and his brothers are some of the funniest/sarcastic guys I've ever known, but, according to all three of them, they are nothing compared to their dad. He could easily top them all.

    He was also huge, apparently. I'm sure I would have liked him. A lot.

    It's nice to see that you have all these good memories to look back on. Wish I could say the same about my dad, and he's still alive.

  5. This is a wonderful tribute, Brad. It made me smile, but it also made me weepy. I've never been close to my dad (or my stepdad, who raised me) and this makes me realize all the things that I've missed out on. I am extremely grateful for my mother, however, who is more than a mom, but is also my best friend. I will cling to memories of her. :)

  6. It was a nice tribute to your dad. I agree with you, that it's a day to celebrate. My son died six years ago, May 22. I guess it was a bad weekend for the both of us. Death doesn't stop love it just teaches you the meaning of unconditional love.