by Kim on November 4, 2009

My Dad was a bunch of fun. He was the middle of 14 children (see Being a Middle Child, #7 of 14) and simply craved attention. At family reunions, he held court with his brothers and sisters. He was a favorite uncle to his 50 nieces and nephews – he would get on the floor and play with them. He could pull quarters out of their ear, and he also convinced them that one  of his arms was longer than the other. He would pull his sleeve down over his wrist and pull one arm to make it longer. It was convincing. During the Dukes of Hazzard County years, he became “Luke Duke” and his grandson was  “Bo Tie”, making their get-away in my father’s recliner chair turned “The General Lee”, their imaginary  1969 Dodge Charger . I think my father enjoyed the play-acting more than my nephew did.

Photo scanning

Dad goofing around "playing" the guitar

He was the fun parent too. We didn’t have much money in our family, but it didn’t take money to have laughter in my house. Dad was entertainment director. I learned to dance – standing on his feet while he danced during the Lawrence Welk and Grand Ole Opry shows. He comically would move around the family room floor as long as the music played. He bent over, pushed his rear-end out, and taught us all how to jitter-bug.

When I brought my boyfriend over to our house at age 16, he told Paul that he liked his football team moustache. When Paul asked what he meant, my father quipped, “There are 11 on each side.” Paul laughed while I left the room completely mortified. The morning of my wedding, Dad choreographed a line dance to “Going to the Chapel”. Later that day, he walked me down the aisle, and before giving my arm to my groom, he took a minute to ask him for 5 dollars. Of course he wasn’t serious – he was just making a joke. It didn’t matter to him that it was the middle of my wedding ceremony.

He told the corniest jokes. He died 27 years ago, but I still remember most of those jokes. Maybe because he told them so many times. Certainly not because the jokes were funny.

“Judge, I want a divorce.”
“Do you have grounds for a divorce?”
“Yes, I have 7 acres.”
“No, what I mean is do you have a grudge?”
“Yes, I have 3-car grudge.”
“Sir, what is the foundation of this divorce?”
“Our foundation is concrete, but what does that have to do with a divorce?”
“One final questions: Does your wife beat you up?”
“No, I’m always up before she is.”
“Case closed”.

He told these same jokes to our family, to strangers, and around my friends in high school. My friends loved him. He was the life of my slumber parties. I thought my girlfriends and I would stay in the basement all night as I had games planned for the evening. But they clamored to be around my dad. He held court.

“My favorite salad is a honeymoon salad”.
“What is a honeymoon salad?”
“Just lettuce alone.”
“Second favorite salad is a Little Boy Salad.”
“What is a Little Boy Salad?”
“Lettuce, turnip and pea.”

“What’s a paradox?”
“Two of them.”

“They hired a new coach from China. His name is win-one-soon.”

“How do you call a headless dog?”
“I don’t know”.
“You wouldn’t want to call him anyways, he couldn’t hear you.”

“What’s the difference between a quarter and a henway?”
“What’s a henway?”
“Oh, about two and a half pounds!”

“You have friendly hair, it’s waving at me.”

Photo Scan

My Mom and Dad Visiting

Two months before my Dad died, he came to visit us in our new home in Houston. He came with my Mom to be present when my first baby was to be born. My Dad had suffered a heart attack at his job two weeks earlier, but it was undiagnosed. He must have felt poorly, but he still spent part of his two weeks at my new house putting in a new backyard. He asked me how would I grade it, meaning was it level and would it drain properly? I told him, I would give it a B+. He appreciated my attempt at humor.

We toured the Houston zoo during that week and watched the monkeys groom their babies, pulling off fleas and slicking down their hair.  He teased me and asked me to watch the mother monkeys so I’d know how to take care of my baby. Mom and Dad had to leave before my son was born – I was 2 1/2 weeks late to deliver him. It was the last time I saw my Dad. He suffered a massive heart attack and died before I could get back to my home town.

When I arrived home, my mother was busy planning the funeral. She fussed over her new grandson for a short while, and then returned to making plans. She pondered what to have my father wear. He had two suits, one very formal that he rarely wore and another than was his favorite, a nice brown and blue plaid. She mused out loud that “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid Suits.” It was comic relief for me and my siblings as we roared in laughter that my mother’s comment coincided with Steve Martin’s new movie “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” that came out that week. My father would have loved the humor.

We read the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote at his funeral. It says, “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a little better; whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is the meaning of success.”

Knock Knock!
Who’s there?
Aardvark who?
Aardvark a million miles for one of your smiles.

Thanks for keeping us laughing, Dad.

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Copyright 2009, All rights reserved.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Cindy Balfour October 25, 2011 at 7:30 am

here I am crying and laughing at the same time. What a wonderful memory.


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