Friday, October 29, 2010


The old man checked out 13 years ago tomorrow.  It was kind of a mess, over 90 days in the ICU and it all started with a broken leg.
See, he had had polio when he was a kid, the effects not all that severe and not anywhere near severe enough to prevent him from being a howitzer gunner during WWII, but it left the muscles in his left leg very rigid and if  he tripped or fell it usually resulted in something in the leg breaking.  My sister did a tally once.... like an incredible 15 times in 10 different places.  But the deal was, the last time he had a reaction to a painkiller they shouldn't have given him,,, he passed a kidney stone which caused a small heart attack.... and things went down hill from there.
But the guy was THE DUDE.... he spread so much bullshit that you would have thought there was a small ranch outside the family house.  Seriously.  He sold advertising for a small town newspaper and was noted for his humor and tall stories. When I was a kid he once told me that his appendix scar was a bayonet wound he got when he captured Adolf Hitler.  His war stories were great!!  Why the guy lent Roosevelt a cigarette once.  He also sunk a sub with a hand greenade while going to Europe on a troop ship.  He told me he wrote a book  but didn't like it so he gave it to a guy named Hemingway and thus launched a great literary career. And those were some of the more mild tales.  He caught fish the size of sailboats, dug most of Lake Michigan by hand and had dated Greta Garbo but married my mother because she was better looking.

So the night before he died my sister and I were in the ICU waiting room; this was the third time the hospital folks said he would probably not make it through the night.  Third time's the charm.  I remember it being about 3am and helping my sister grade some essays her students had written on Shakespeare's "Comedy of Errors".  She was burnt out and had missed about as much school as she could. And then I came across the best essay of the bunch.....
it was titled..... the Comedy of Airs.  I shit you not.  And the student wrote.."This is a really good play.  William Shakespeare is a really good writer.  He is my favorite playright.  I think "Comedy of Airs is the best play he write.  It is really really good......." and it went on like that for four pages.  I started laughing.  I couldn't stop.  My sister looked at me and I handed her the paper.  She spit out the coffee she was drinking and soon we were both having hysterical fits.  I couldn't stop.  I would grab the paper from her and read a little out loud and she would start again.... then she would read some to me and we would be off again.  The nurse came to see what was up and we read some to her.  She didn't laugh.  I truly pissed my pants that night.  He left at about 6am.
Dad truly loved Halloween and handing out treats about as much as he loved telling jokes.  I still believe he gave us one more candy bar that night, one last treat, one more laugh.   I know it's true.  I read the Cliff Notes.


susan said...

He sounds like a totally cool guy to have had as your father. My dad told wonderful stories too but not the same kind at all. I'm sure you're right.

Sherry Peyton said...

Just thanks Jimmy. Thanks for sharing.

Life As I Know It Now said...

I know guys like that--full of stories, and laughs--the bigger the better. He left to the sound of laughter and that's all to the good, yes?

Anonymous said...

Great post, Jim.

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