I hope you’ll indulge me as I share some of the funnier moments my Dad created in his life. There’s no visitation, service or ceremony for him. That’s how he wanted – actually insisted – it should be. I might not feel like writing here for the rest of the week, but I feel like it now, so here I am.
We even mentioned a couple of Dad’s legendary pranks in the official obituary because they were known far and wide. Take the jackalope…please.
There was a “Jackalope crossing” sign erected at the road and even coverage in the local newspaper. Guys at the legion fashioned a jackalope head for the wall. Some people swear they saw them. One man told my Mom he saw a huge female jackalope moving slowly, “so maybe she was pregnant”. Dad soaked it all up with satisfaction.
A former boyfriend of mine had a rather elaborate and ongoing gag about a mongoose and once Dad saw it, he had to have one so the bf built it for him. It was a rustic wooden crate with chicken wire on part of the top so you could see inside just a bit. You were asked if you’d like to see the mongoose. Everyone said yes. Who has ever seen a mongoose? Dad had the patter down pat. The mongoose was nasty and a biter, but don’t worry because it’s secure in its crate. All you could see through the wire was some straw. Dad would start by trying to call it out in the open but after nothing happened he would tap on the box and shake it a bit, murmuring about how it would make the mongoose angry but he really wanted you to see it. Then, just at the right moment, he’d flip a latch on the side, the top would bang open and a spring-loaded, fur covered stick would fly up, launching a loose pelt into the air! The screaming, running, swearing and sometimes peeing that followed never disappointed. Once the laughter and embarrassment died down would come the inevitable, “OH you’ve got to show it to so-and-so!” and the ruse would start all over again. For several years the refrain, “Have you ever seen Jack’s mongoose?” rang through the air in West Lincoln. A few trusted friends even borrowed it for party weekends. That mongoose went to the east coast and wherever else Dad found himself traveling for his business. It really got around.
Dad loved to laugh but even more, he loved to make other people laugh. An Aunt and Uncle loved to go on camping trips. Once, after they returned home, they received a postcard from a family they had met. It went into detail about how the couple would take my Aunt and Uncle up on their offer to visit but they could only stay for three weeks. Sadly, two of their seven children had other plans, but the five youngest would be coming along. You get the idea. Dad at work again.
Dad was funny even when he wasn’t trying to be. Kevin and I love to reminisce about asking him to buy us Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell album at Eastgate Square in Stoney Creek. When you’re a young teen, the coolest people you meet are those who work in record stores. You’re simply aching to be half as cool but there you are, with your Dad, at the counter. He couldn’t just give us the money and let us go get the album, no, he had to prove he was still hip! He might have been hip until he opened his mouth and said, “Can we get Meatgrinder, To Hell with the Devil?” I once heard him refer to Bruce Springsteen as Brice Springbank. Dad loved country music. His term for rock was “be-bop music” as in, “I can’t take all of that be-bop music!”
There were so many more gotchas and jokes. Today, you can read about the legend of the Hoop Snake on Wikipedia, but my Dad was talking about it long before most folks were. There was the time he crawled around in the dark in one of the fields with a green globe and a flashlight, trying to trick us into believing it was a UFO. I still have a couple of the notes he left me when I was living at home. His signature style was to make most of the note impossible-to-read squiggles, and pepper in a few key words or phrases. He made up amazing bedtime stories when we were kids about close calls with animals. For all we knew at the time, he was a professional Grizzly Adams. He had the soul of an artist in the body of the Brawny Paper Towel lumberjack. He was a frustrated inventor with a million ideas that never came to pass. I’ve never met anyone who worked as hard or as long without complaint. His sense of humour was one of the things that got him through it. It was an appealing quality that drew people to him. We miss his imagination and his hearty laugh. We miss him.