Father Knew Best

Dad had many funny sayings. Whenever he heard of someone having a messy house, he would say

I could clean that house in ten minutes.

A dumpsterHe would say it to clients in his law office who complained of having a cluttered environment. Dad never explained his methods, but I believe they involved a bulldozer and a large dumpster. He would also snap his fingers to illustrate how quickly he could finish with the cleaning. My sister and I would laugh because he was really serious.

Ever the optimist, Dad would look for the silver lining in every cloud. Any time my sister or I complained about our jobs, he would tell us

Good!  That’s one more job you don’t want to do for the rest of your life.

He always said it in a very affirming way, as though finding this information out was terrific, and we were brilliant for realizing that a store clerk was not a life-time career for us.

Dad also thought that many new things were fads. He thought the television was just a temporary entertainment, and he said

Let’s not get one. Soon people will get tired of watching and will go back to reading and having conversations.

FHealth Insuranceor someone as smart as he was, some of his ideas were pretty odd or old-school. Dad thought health insurance was a fad and he refused to buy it. He thought people should just pay for their medical bills and most of his life, he was able to do just that.  By the time he realized he needed health insurance, he could not purchase it anywhere.

Dad believed in Zero Population Growth and drove around with a sticker on his car asking, “How Dense Can We Get?” He once suggested to one of his clients:

You have too many children. I will help you in your legal difficulties, but you have to practice birth control.

In this case, the women he was helping seldom had any money, and Dad knew (and fully accepted) that he was working for free. Once a friend of his told me he was sending my dad a client. Bill told me

This man has money. Your daddy has enough of the kind who can’t pay.

Even his friends and legal colleagues realized that Dad was an easy mark for anyone with a good story.

As teenagers, we all thought everyone was extremely interested in everything about us. It was Dad who had the dubious honor of disabusing us of this idea.

Most people don’t actually give a rat’s ass about your problems. You can count your true friends on the fingers of your hand. If you are lucky, it’s both hands.

Dad also would say

If you marry a crazy person, you get crazy kids.

Our stepmother (who was all too familiar with our biological mother’s madness) kindly pointed out to us that Dad consistently exempted himself from this saying.

Dad was a marvelous story-teller and he told  stories about growing up in Minnesota, serving in the military, and going to college. The amazing thing was that all of the stories were up-beat and positive. Dad had a rough life, but you never heard that from him. He truly took lemons and made lemonade. He loved his life and he loved his family. I feel so privileged to have been his daughter. My sister and I get our story-telling abilities as well as our senses of humor from Dad, who loved a good story and always enjoyed a good laugh.

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