Thursday, September 29, 2011

BAD DAD Stories

My sister Lisa and I live two blocks apart on Winona Lake. It is a quiet, peaceful lake neighborhood, where most of our neighbors delight in living on the water’s edge on “the island.” The tranquility of the lake and community makes it the perfect place for our mother, who struggles with health issues, and lives with Lisa. My brother Matt and I try our best to help out with Mom’s care, so no one person is overburdened.

Since I live only two blocks away, I can walk over to Lisa’s place in three minutes or kayak from my pier to her pier in about five minutes. My daily job is to visit Mom once in the morning and once in the afternoon. All I have to do is sit and talk with her, if she is having a good day. Topics of conversation usually have to do with family and lake gossip. Nothing serious. Keep it light.

About two weeks ago, I was sitting in Lisa’s living room, with its panoramic view of the lake. Mom was having a good day. Out of the blue she asked me if I ever thought about Dad, who died fifteen years ago. I told her that never a day went by without me thinking about him. Something happens to bring him to mind.

I do not know how it happened, but I told her a couple of stories about what went on at the office that my dad and I shared for twenty-three years. Whatever else it may or may not be, practicing general law in a small, Bible Belt town is not boring. My mom was smiling and laughing about the antics of the clients I was describing. She was surprised at how silly and crazy they were.

After about an hour my sister came home and joined in the story sharing. I commented that I was certain that Mom had heard most of the stories I had told. My mom abruptly informed me that I had forgotten that she was not ever allowed to come to the office for any reason. She was right. For reasons that continue to escape me to this day, Mom never darkened the door at 215 N. Washington. Nothing ever happened there that would be embarrassing to him, to the best of my knowledge, but Dad did have that rule.

When Mom reminded me that the office was off limits to her, it occurred to me that she knew nothing about Dad’s life for sixty hours a week. She knew nothing about what he was doing or who he was seeing, other than what she might read in the newspaper. If you think about it, she just was not a part of half of his life for forty years.

As I got up to leave, I told her that I hoped she enjoyed my “happy dad stories.” She told me she like the stories, but wondered why I did not tell any “bad” stories about Dad. Surprised, I said that was because I did not know any. She did not believe me.

On the walk home, I tried to think of a bad story to tell about Dad. The truth is that I simply cannot recall any. When I told my wife I could not think of any Bad Dad stories, Lynne said, “What a wonderful gift he left you! Not a single bad thought! Nothing but smiles and laughter! How can a person be better remembered?”

As always, she is right. Dad cannot be better remembered by me. Every memory of him is accompanied by a smile or laughter.

It does not get better that that.

Mike out.


  1. WHAT a SUNSET! Thanks for sharing about your dad, Michael. I remember the twinkle in his eye when he would ask if Steve or I would like to go flying after church! We always said yes! He made us soar! XXOO Praying and sending love, Crust