September 5th…remembering a lifetime of laughter.
I always knew I’d laugh about the times I cried, but never knew I’d cry about the times I laughed. ~ Anonymous
It is softly drizzling outside, gradually soaking our parched lawn and I’m sitting in the kitchen with my two sons. My oldest is a replica of his daddy, my youngest more closely resembles my daddy. Tomorrow, September 5th, is my dad’s birthday. He would have been 62 tomorrow. I suppose you never “get over” the death of a parent or loved one, but I am learning (for me, anyway) that it has gotten easier to be at peace with. I still tear up (or full out sob) from time to time, but not as regularly as I did during his illness and immediately after his death. I am reminded of him very often, but it brings back happy memories…snippets of love and laughter nestled in every fiber of my body.
I want to share a few things with you about him. Things we laughed about then and things I laugh about now.
He had what my siblings and I dubbed a “dad chuckle” that you would only hear when he was trying not to laugh at something that my mom did not find as amusing as her children did…inappropriate jokes, asinine tv shows and the like. He was watching a South Park episode with me late one night when I was in high school. We weren’t snuggled on the couch together or anything, but we were both in the kitchen at the same time and there was a small tv in there. I was at the table close to the television, while he was playing solitaire at the built in computer desk area about 10 feet behind me. It was the episode when they tried to say the “shit” word as much as possible in the allotted run time and there was a counter/ticker thing in one of the lower corners of the screen (come on y’all….you 90’s teenagers know which one I’m referring to). The higher the number on the ticker got, the more he “dad chuckled”. I could tell he was trying to pretend not to be paying attention to the show as my mom was meandering in and out of the kitchen. She was not fond of my then infatuation with South Park. I finally looked over my shoulder near the end of the show and daddy was laughing so hard he wasn’t making any noise (sounds weird, but it’s a thing I swear).
He did the same thing when I made him watch the first Ace Venture movie with me. We guffawed through the whole thing, but in the scenes where Jim Carrey is dressed in the Hawaiian shirt, combat boots and pink tutu trying to scope out the mental institution we were crying rivers of tears and leaning on each other for support as our laughter worked our abs to the max.
He used to laugh with us at restaurants when we would blow our straw wrappers off the straws like paper missiles…until one of them would cross the border into another patron’s booth and land in their salad plate…then we would get “the look” and he would say either:
“Daggummit, (insert appropriate child’s name here)!” or “Bless a Cow!”
We started most road trips with an annoying round of “the song that never ends” a la Sherry Lewis and Lambchop. Or we would wait till we were about thirty minutes down the road to start asking if we “were there yet” or begging sarcastically for a bathroom break.
I have 28 years of fantastical memories of my dad and I am so lucky to have those. These cover one small lily-pad in the whole pond…
He loved the Eagles and Derek and the Dominoes (original version of Layla all the way, none of that slow, mopey crap!!!)
He loved Blazing Saddles & True Lies & James Bond
He loved Saturday morning breakfasts with his crew at Cloverdale Kitchen.
He loved trips to Disney World
Pecan pie a la mode
Being at the beach with my mom
His cowboy boots
and the Tarheels for anyone who was wondering
I have one more quote for you from the book The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian.
Integrity is not what you appear to be when all eyes are on you. It’s who you are when no one is looking. It’s a level of morality below which you never fall, no matter what’s happening around you. It’s a high standard of honesty, truthfulness, decency, and honor that is never breached. It’s doing for others the way you would want them to do for you.
He certainly treated me with love and respect. Teamed up with my mom, he was a gentle and logical guide through adolescence and into adulthood and mom mom was and continues to be my creative inspiration and maternal role model.
Sharing a few things about him keeps the memories of him alive. They shine out of my heart and I love sharing him with my boys.
Zeb, my four year old, asked me about my wrist tattoo yesterday morning. I read it to him as he softly touched the words and told him my daddy died before he was born, but that part of my daddy was inside him. Zeb replied, “Mama, I’ll put the pieces of your daddy back together for you and it would make you so happy.” Oh how my heart wept and sang at the same time. A little man of integrity, just like his granddaddy.