Friday, February 2, 2007

Laughing and Storytelling

My dad died in the fall. He got lung cancer and it swept through his body like some kind of virulent tsunami, sweeping through organs and seeping into his very bones.

He was a good man. A quiet, taciturn man. A strong, loving family man. My family is very lucky. We are really close. We laugh until we cry, we like to eat and we are big storytellers. When we tell a story, we want every single, last detail. My mom is the champion storyteller and Dad always sat back and let her tell the stories. About how they almost froze in Minneapolis because she had on a fur coat but just stockings on her legs. About how she got the worst sunburn of her life on a cloudy day. About not knowing how to make biscuits from scratch. He never said much. But he always listened to the rest of us. And he laughed when the rest of us laughed.

My mom came to take me to lunch one year for my birthday and she presented me with a card, after she had given me some gifts. "It's from your dad." she said. I was surprised to find a hundred dollar bill inside. My family was far from affluent when I was growing up. My dad was in the Marine Corps and, with four kids, things were tight. So I had never been given that amount of money for a gift. "He said it's for a coat. You said you needed a coat." I had said that. He had remembered. I bought a coat.

We liked to travel together as a family. We often went to Pensacola and rented a place right on the beach. Dad cracked us all up one year when we played Win, Lose or Draw. He kept adding sound effects to his drawings. We couldn't stop laughing long enough to make him stop.

One Thanksgiving, Dad stood up and tried to give a little speech about his feelings for his family. He started speaking but got so choked up he couldn't speak. He couldn't finish the speech. That was OK. We knew what he meant.

When he was in the hospital and the morphine was really strong and he was sleeping all the time, we were all there. One night we sat and told stories and laughed until we cried. I don't think we disturbed him. I think he enjoyed it.

I wasn't there when he died. I was pulling into the hospital parking lot with a big picnic basket full of food for the others who were on duty in the room. My cell phone rang and I knew.

After we had made all the arrangements, we all came back to my house. We ate all the food in the picnic basket. We told stories. And we laughed.

Dad would have approved.


sarah said...

Wonderful post. love you.

Anonymous said...



Lucy's Mom said...

Nothing like a good cry to start the day. I love you Sis.


boo said...

You are exactly right! Well put. :)