Father’s and Sons is a collection of short memoir pieces that tell about what I most remember about my Father. I often veer into the vagaries of history, culture, and the world that he grew up in.
Walking Dead Man
There is no story of my father that better describes his core belief that life is for living.
We were in the office and sitting at his desk. He owned a real estate business though he had mostly quit the grind of selling and managed the staff and the business. We were drinking coffee and chatting. Lolling about. I could have been productive somewhere else but I loved hanging out at Dad’s office.
The bell rings and the door opens. One of the agents walks in. Walks in isn’t right. Blown in as if moved mysteriously by the heat from a wildfire is more accurate. He is glowing. Potted plants spring into flower as he walks by. He comes straight to my Dad and sits down directly in front of both of us. He can’t even talk but just shakes his head back and forth. Dad and I laugh and look at each other and shrug our shoulders.
“Bob.” He holds his hands out. “I. Have just found. The perfect. Piece. Of. Property.” He hangs heavy on perfect and savors every wisp of air making the sound as if it smells different. Few things excited my Dad as much as a great piece of property. He breathed in the same charged air and moved to the edge of his chair. “C’mon, man. Tell us.”
“Bob, you wouldn’t believe it. Five acres. Flat with a well. Power right on the road. It’s completely in the country but the freeway is five minutes off.” The guy smiles wide and leans back in his chair and looks like he has fallen in love for the first time.
“You know… my whole life I’ve dreamed about having a piece of property like this. Man. I’d get me a John Deere tractor and get up early on Saturdays. I’d grab a cuppa coffee and a cigar and just go drive that thing around. Dig some holes and just fill ‘em back up. Then I’d do it all over again the next Saturday.” You could see everything that’s good swirling around this guy as he talked about his dream. I thought he might explode with happy feelings. Dad did what he always did when people got excited about property. He grabbed a purchase agreement and said, “Damn. Fill this thing out. You’ve got to buy this thing today.”
I don’t think any balloon has ever deflated as fast as this guy did. The minute my dad put paper in front of him, the minute he asked him to act on his dream, it was like someone sneaked behind this guy and poked him with a needle and all his joy and blue light and dreams just leaked out onto the carpet and left him empty. Still sitting, he fell in on himself and put his chin in his hands. It took a few seconds before he lifted his eyes and said, “You know, I’ve got my house paid off. Kids are gone…I don’t know.” He breathed in again. “Ha! What do I need with five acres? And a John Deere tractor! Crap. I’m an old guy!” And he stood up, just like that, and walked out. Feet and heart and dreams back firmly on the ground.
When he was out of hearing Dad turned to me and whispered. “You know what Den? That guy might think he’s old but he’s already dead and doesn’t even know it.”
Cheers! Kind of.
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