My father is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. He loves to laugh at himself, which is a rare and admirable trait. He’s quick with a quip, he spontaneously comes up with silly poems that rhyme with my sons’ names, and he’s a terrific writer (seven non-fiction books – one of which was made into a CBS Sunday Night movie and got him an appearance on Oprah, and countless magazine articles, including two that won him National Magazine Awards). He’s an incredibly kind, sentimental man who loves his family and adores my Mom (he still calls her “my bride” after 47 years of marriage). One of the things I’ll always be grateful to him for is that he taught me so much about writing – and he’s still my first and best editor.
Here is a story Dad loves to tell about raising us kids:
Once, in the grocery store, my father was struggling to put my younger brother Ben into the seat in the front of the cart. Ben kept stiffening his legs, causing my Dad to practically do contortions to try to wedge Ben’s chubby little legs into the right holes. Suddenly, my older brother shouted, “Lock your legs, Ben!” Ben obeyed, at which point my older brother and I – knowing my father was immobilized – promptly pulled down my father’s pants. He laughed about it then, and gets absolutely hysterical recalling the story today.
But Dad can get mad, too. Once my older brother and some of his teen-aged friends hopped the fence at our neighborhood swimming pool for a midnight dip. One of the pool board members lived nearby and saw them – and called the police. Dad was so furious that this guy – who’d been a referee at many of our swim meets and shared pot-luck with us – had tried to get the kids in serious trouble for a teen-aged prank that he refused to speak to him for twenty years. Twenty! The moral is, don’t mess with Dad’s kids. Even though Dad is now friendlier to that guy, I’m pretty sure he’d still put a “kick me” sign on his back, given the chance.
Happy belated Father’s Day, Dad! I love you very much.