Learning through Laughter

Bob Owen, Humorist

I’ll never live to be old enough to be as super cool, or as stylish, as Dad.  (By, the way, I suspect that statement will never usher forth from the mouths of my boys.  However, I can occasionally be stylish.)

Dad was one of those people who would quietly enter a room and know everyone, and they would seek him out.  Because he was powerful?  I’m not sure whether he was powerful or not.  I never thought of him that way.  But, people enjoyed him.  He laughed.  He joked.  He respected and liked people.  Bingo!

He did it all. As I grew older, Dad would softly say something that would set me laughing hysterically, gasping for air, and always wanting more.  Dad could wear a coat and tie in 90-degree weather and always look crisp and fresh.  Dad could always calm my fears, whether I was a kid at home, or later when I was at home with my kids. 

He was pretty cool.  But, when I think of his “coolness,” I go back in my memory to one particular talent he had that I personally have not seen duplicated.   It is now a “lost art.” It was something he exhibited at the dining room table during holidays.  We were a fairly casual family at home, except in our dining room.  When we were in the dining room, we were expected to be on our finest behavior – and to look the part.  We would NOT come to the dining room table in jeans or t-shirts or sweats.  Dad wore a long sleeve white shirt and tie. Even on the weekends.  Even after he retired.  What WAS he thinking?  We all dressed “nicely” when we ate in the dining room.

On Thanksgiving Day, after everyone was seated at the table, Mom brought out the beautifully baked turkey on a silver platter and sat it in front of Dad.  He went around the table and asked each person what part of the turkey they would like.  Then he sliced the meat right there at the table.   He didn’t care if there were four people or 12.  No one began eating until everyone was served.  We didn’t starve either.  I knew as a child I would carry on that tradition.

Years later, Mom and Dad were at our house for Thanksgiving. I was so excited. It was my time to return the favor and carve the turkey for Dad.  I was wearing a dress shirt and tie.  Brenda brought out the beautifully baked turkey and set it and the silver tray in front of me.  I took the meat orders and began to carve the turkey, all the time engaging in small talk with our family. 

The fact that the first drumstick landed on the carpet and was consumed instantly by Katie, our dalmation, was not the defining moment.  The culmination came when the entire turkey slipped out from under my knife, skidded across the table, and landed smack dab in Dad’s lap. 

He calmly stood up, put the turkey back on the tray, and said politely, "Yes, I’ll be glad to carve the turkey, since you insist."

Date of Blog Story: 
February 21, 2008

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