“This is the price you pay for having a great father. You get the wonder, the joy, the tender moments – and you get the tears at the end, too.” – Harlan Coben
I’ve come to the realization that Father’s Day will always be bittersweet. The first few years after my dad’s death were really difficult, and you can tell by the type of posts I wrote that I was really grieving.
Not to say that I am not still grieving – I think that will last forever. But the pain isn’t the “punch in the gut” grief like it used to be.
I am sure some people think I have propelled dear old Dad into sainthood. Of course not – he had his faults. But I know that the good and bad made him a great dad. And no matter what, he loved his family unconditionally. He had our backs, especially when we screwed up, because he knew how important it was to have someone in your corner.
It is good now to be able to laugh more than cry. Dad was a character to say the least. He loved a good joke. He loved to laugh, and one of the things I miss the most is his laugh.
With that in mind, here are a few funny stories that our family loves to share. By repeating his stories to our children, we keep him alive in our hearts.
On music and lyrics…
Back in the day, Hall and Oates had a chart-topper song with “Maneater.” Dad, who always wanted to be “cool” among us kids, did his part and listened to our music. I remember when he thought he was very cool, wearing gold polyester pants, white shoes and listening to the Beatles.
Now, Dad also had a goofy dance that he would modify with each evolution in the music world. He also was a big fan of the University of Michigan. So one day, while the stereo was blasting, Dad happened to be home when “Maneater” was playing. All excited because he recognized the song, he starts his goofy dance. With a big grin plastered on his face, he hears the refrain and starts singing at the top of his voice:
My brother and I looked and him, then each other, and figured we didn’t catch what he said.
Then Dad started singing again.
This time, my brother and I were laughing so hard we could hardly breathe.
“Dad – that’s not the words! It’s ‘Oh-oh here she comes!'”
We had to explain what the song was about. Awkward. And the look on his face was priceless. Had we been wise, we would have contacted the public relations department at U of M to share a new marketing jingle. Trust me when I say that anytime we hear “Maneater,” we substitute Dad’s classic lyrics. And we still laugh.
My father loved yard work, but really liked the compliments on his perfect yard even more. The times when people offered to buy our home based on the exterior only was a true feather in his cap. Everything was perfect – from the placement of flowers to the perfectly even cut of every blade of grass.
Now, in the fall, he would become obsessed with keeping the yard leaf-free. We often joked that if he could, he would remove all the leaves from the trees so that they couldn’t fall on his beautiful yard.
Dad would interrupt a conversation to grab a stray leaf. He would also call us weekly to let us know how many bags of leaves he raked and bagged. I made him a leaf tally one year, and I think I became his favorite child for doing so. With each bag he’d mark down the numbers, and he proudly displayed the tally board in the garage.
One beautiful autumn afternoon, he decided to tackle the leaves. Again. He didn’t go after the ones in the yard. He had a better plan. A prevention plan in his mind. Dad decided to go after the leaves that were on the roof. Yes, on the roof. Why wait for the wind to remove them when you can climb on the roof with a leaf blower and remove them yourself?
My mother heard some cussing, and low and behold, she found out that he “slid” off the roof, ruining the leaf blower. And by the grace of God, that man was not hurt; he just missed landing on the air conditioning unit by a few inches.
Of course, when mom told us he fell off the roof, he was madder than hell. It was not because she told us of his stupidity of being on the roof with a leaf blower. It was because she said told us that he “fell” off the roof. He insisted she was wrong, exaggerating even. Because, in his words, he “slid” off the roof, he didn’t fall. And to him, there was a difference.
Ah, yes Dad. We miss you and your antics like crazy. But it feels so good to laugh about them today, instead of crying. For that – I thank you!
Happy Father’s Day to the men in my life. May you enjoy your families, make memories and share laughter. God bless you for your love and dedication to your families.
© Lynne Cobb – 2015