On the Night my father passed away, he was in an assisted living facility in Las Vegas and I was at home in San Diego. A caregiver told me he wasn’t expected to make it through the night. She held the phone to his head for me and said he was able to listen but not able to speak. Knowing these would be the last words I would ever speak to my father, I thanked him for the upbringing he provided and for the tools he gave me to prepare me for life. I then told him that I loved and said goodnight.

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The next morning when I was notified he passed during the night, I realized I forgot to thank him for the most important thing — the sense of humor he instilled in me. To this day, in my morning prayer, I always thank him for that sense of humor.

My dad enjoyed laughing, but he enjoyed making others laugh even more — or at least trying to. He loved a good joke. He was always quick with the typical dad joke…

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Dad, I would say to him, I’m going to jump in the shower now. His reply was always, “don’t jump too high, I don’t want you to slip and break your neck…”

Or

Dad, I’m going to run to 7-Eleven and get some candy. “I bet you don’t make it 2 blocks before you stop to catch your breath…”

Hardy-har-har

Maybe those were comical retorts more than jokes, but he did like a good joke too. One of his favorites was this…

“Son, did you know a slice of apple pie is $3.00 in Jamaica, $4.00 in Barbados, $6.00 in the Bahamas…?”

No I didn’t, I would tell him.  Then I would cringe and wait for  what I knew was coming…

“Those are the pie rates of the Caribbean…”

Bud-dump-bump

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Dad, a former English teacher and one-time journalist, loved language, loved a good pun, and enjoyed word-play.

Across the dinner table one evening when I was maybe in the 3rd grade, he stopped cold, put down his fork, just looked at me dead-faced and asked…

“I know what the capital of Alaska is —Juneau…?“

I didn’t get it, because I didn’t know what the capital of Alaska was when I was in the 3rd grade. He had to explain it to me. Of course the next day in school, I attempted to use that joke all day long. None of my friends knew the capital of Alaska either, so I didn’t get anymore traction with that joke than he did with me.

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Later in life and well into retirement, April Fool’s Day became his high-holy day. I was in my early 30s when he called me on the phone one evening and suggested I sit down if I wasn’t already seated. He was in his late 60s at the time. His voice was actually haunting and I could tell something was wrong. I knew this was not going to be good news and I expected him to tell me of heart disease, cancer, or worse.

He then explained to me that during a lapse of judgment, he had gotten pregnant a 17-year-old girl who lived in his condominium complex.

I was stunned, but I was immediately steadfast in wanting to be there for him. I explained that I supported him no matter what. I remember clearly asking him how I could help him.

“Well“ he said “you can start by telling me what day it is…“

Huh…?

“What day is it today…?“

April 1st, I told him.

Fuck. Fuckity fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck…!

You got me, I told him. I might’ve called him an asshole, a son of a bitch, or both. Maybe it was both. I don’t remember, but I remember using foul language and in an instance when I could get away with it.

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Yes, my father raised me with an appreciation for the English language. He raised me with a good workout ethic, to be polite, to be a gentleman, to hold doors for women, and to say please and thank you to everything that moved. He taught me to write thank you notes, how to tie a Windsor knot, and he indoctrinated me on Dixieland jazz, big band, and swing music.

My father taught me to make my bed with hospital corners, how to polish shoes, how to mow the lawn in opposing angles each week to make the grass stand up straighter, and he taught me how to properly cook a steak over charcoal.

The most enduring lessons he taught me though, was having a sense of humor — of appreciating laughter and being able to make others laugh.

I’m not suggesting in any way that my father could have had a career as a comedian or a comedy writer. Most of the time he wasn’t that funny or he was just plain corny. He tried often though, to be funny, and that made a huge difference in an otherwise tense household.

Humor was a part of nearly every meal, every road trip, and even when we were in the backyard pulling weeds side-by-side, there was always…

“Son, how many rabbis does it take to screw in a lightbulb…?

I don’t know dad, how many…?  Cringe…

“Ve don’t need any lightbulbs. The oil in the lamp will last us least 8 days…”

Oy

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In some ways I think I was equally unsuccessful at making my own daughter laugh, but just as successful at teaching her the value of having a sense of humor.

Hey Dad, remember that day when I was in the 8th grade and when you walked into the house house only to find laying on the floor spread out like I was dead and I really wasn’t…? I was just playing dead to get you to laugh. Psyche…! I learned it from you okay, I learned from watching you. Sorry I scared the crap out of you.

To all you dad’s out there telling corny jokes at the dinner table, while driving to practice, or standing beside the swing-set — please don’t ever stop telling those horrible jokes. When you’re no longer around, those jokes might be the first thing your kids think of when they think of you.

This is what I think about my ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 5
171 miles
7,900’ climbing
15.0 mph avg
10,000 calories

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there is this from Razorlight. Enjoy…!

9 thoughts on “Dad’s Greatest Gift…

    1. Thank you, Cliff, and to you too…! I hope it’s a peaceful day for you…!

      As you may recall, I’m a big Jay Ward fan. I truly believe my love of language began there.

      Peace to you, my friend!

      Like

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