My Dad had a sense of humour. When “on” he could be one of the funniest people you’d ever meet. His sense of humour was often biting, at someone else’s expense and, therefore, could be offensive. Good humour, this side of Paradise, usually is. There’s the rub: This side of Paradise.
My Dad, every time we passed a cemetery, would say: “Hey, David, people are just dying to get in there!” Did you hear me say “every time”? Well I meant it. That is, every single solitary time that I can remember riding past a cemetery – every single time – my Dad said, “Hey, David, I hear people are just dying to get in there”. When you’re a kid, it’s funny. It’s funny the first few times. Then it gets old as you enter adolescence. Forget the teen years. Then about the millionth time, it’s suddenly funny again.
My Dad had other sayings that, God help me, I find myself saying often – always attributing the source, of course. (Some of these have been “sanitized” for general consumption.)
When you’re fond of using the word “IF” to justify something …
“Yeah, well, if a frog had wings we wouldn’t bump his butt all the time.”
If you were basing your goals and dreams on wishes …
“Why don’t you try wishing in one hand and *&@##@+$ in the other and see which one fills up first.”
When you complained of a headache …
“If I had a head like yours that didn’t ache, I’d go see the doctor.”
If you complained of another body ache …
“How ‘bout I hit you in the _____ (arm, head, stomach, etc) and see which one hurts worse.”
None of these are really funny. They’re biting. The kind of thing a parent might say to neutralize drama. However, as I father I must admit, I’ve stolen some of Dad’s material.
We once had a parishioner whose mother had given her a plaque for her wall that read:
“Mirror, mirror, on the wall … I am my mother after all”.
I resemble that remark. I am my father after all. In other words, the very things I hated hearing as a child, I often find myself repeating – always attributing the source, of course.
But my Dad’s sense of humour was spontaneous. All my pals and girlfriends loved him. They thought he was the funniest person they’d ever met. He could be. To me, that is, he could be. He was happiest when he had an audience. (Family don’t count.) I loved watching my Dad “perform”.
There’s not many stories I can relate here cuz, being spontaneous humour, you had to be there. He just had a way about him.
The other thing is, I look just like him. Growing up in a small town I often found myself being recognized as his son by total strangers. Folks see pics of my Dad and say, “Gosh, you look just like him”. I never wore the sort of Elvis-like hairstyle, and was a bit taller and bulkier. But folks say that we’re the spittin’ image of each other.
Mirror, mirror …
Like many kids this side of Paradise, I spent a lot of years disliking the man; wishing he were different; wanting more than he offered; judging him. Looking back, it was probably more me than him. A year or so ago, he and I apologized to each other. It was short, real, needed. As a pastor, I often hear similar tales from males. Dads, sons … you know. I often weep over my own son, out of his sight, hoping I do better in his eyes. I know my Dad did the same. But this side of Paradise, for many, there’s often a male thing going on with sons and Dads.
Anyway, my Dad, Malcolm Huneycutt, was definitely NOT “dying to get in there”. He found out that he had prostate cancer 7 or 8 years ago. Did all the stuff they typically put you through, Lord have mercy, and he died today at the age of 64.
Back in the 60’s there was a toy called “Monster Magnet”. It was a brawny piece of plastic, a man-shaped horse shoe, with magnets at each end. It could pick up just about anything. I don’t know how this routine started, but after yelling from my room in the dark house, “I love you, Mom” – my Dad and I would each yell “Monster Magnet”. Like this …
“Goodnight, Mom, I love you.”
“I love you, son. Sleep well.”
“Monster Magnet, Dad!”
“Goodnight, son. Monster Magnet!”
When he started working 16 hours a day, which he did for 16 years, the routine stopped. Till the other day. Only one participated, however. My Dad lay dying, looking 20 years older than he should. I’ve watched many people die; studied theology for years; am never at a loss for words. My Dad, by this time non-responsive, just lay there, labouring to breath. Nothing more.
My Dad was a simple man.
I kissed him and said, “I don’t have any words of wisdom, Dad. Sorry …
Monster Magnet, Dad. Monster Magnet.”
Malcolm Lee Huneycutt
May 7, 1941 – August 4, 2005
May the All-Merciful God grant him a good and welcoming audience inside Paradise. (‘Cuz that’s the place he was really dying to get into.)