One More Day

The other day, a Facebook friend asked a question that was something like, "If you could spend one more day with your dad, what would you do?" There were references to a day fishing, or spending time at a ballgame and, while I wouldn't turn my nose up at a day at the ballpark, I had something else in mind.

When you stand over the coffin and look at that face and those hands, you realize with certainty, that that person is gone. The body, before you for now, but the person, the personality, has gone silent and will never return.

What I miss about Dad is his personality and the bond my personality had with his. I miss hearing him pray. He said the same prayer at meals, with little variation, for all my adult life. We would smile at the familiar words and the familiar cadence as Dad thanked God for provisions and asked for strength. We would have sworn we'd never forget it, but today, all I can recall is the ending, "as Thy Words are to our spirits. In Jesus' Name we ask it. Amen." Short 'a' on the 'amen'.

I miss his laugh. Dad would have a funny story to tell and he'd start in, but many times, would get so tickled that by the end you could hardly understand him between the laughing and gasping.

I'm not sure what got us laughing in the picture on the right, but we both are clearly enjoying ourselves. And it's obvious there was no reason for me not to let go - I was wearing plastic pants.

Dad would spend time trying to teach me to play some baseball. Here, I crushed one of his offerings, at least that's the way I remember it. I always imagined that the white dot near the building was the ball. Now I just think it's a white dot. Dad's dad had been a coach, a teacher, and a principal and so I think my dad is just doing a little coaching right here. Granddad had older kids to work with, though.

Here's some guys Granddad worked with. Inmates at Algoa Farm in Jefferson City. In this photo from 1944, Granddad is standing in the back on the left. These young men had been incarcerated by the state of Missouri and sent to the prison farm at Algoa. Granddad was the boxing coach there for a time. In 1950, a guy who'd robbed a gas station in St. Louis showed up at Algoa and learned to box there, but there is no indication that Sonny Liston ever crossed paths with my granddad.

Back to the opening question: If I could have one more day with Granddad, I think I'd like to know about teaching boxing in prison. Wouldn't you?

Here we are staring into the sun, so Grandma must be behind the Brownie camera. Every photo that Grandma took featured us facing the sun. She liked her subjects well lit. So this is in the yard at Granddad's in Forsyth. The house had been built on a steep Ozarks slope and you parked down below and walked up a very interesting flight of stairs to the house. The steps were of varying heights and depths and had once been painted red, if memory serves.

Judging by the clothing, my guess is this one was taken the same day as the one above. Granddad has been replaced by my older sister. Apparently my legs have gone wobbly and Dad is trying to steady me. You notice in his left hand is some elixar of life that I'll probably knock back on the long car ride home. Thirteen long miles made simpler because the baby has a bottle.

I think this is a sweet picture. If an image could capture fatherhood, you could pick worse ones than this. I don't know where we were going, but I'd guess to church, based on how we're dressed. You have to keep the little man's shoes tied.

But now that I look again, you can see by the shadows that the sun was in the west when the picture was taken. So I don't know where we were going.

In the end, we helped Dad with various things as age and life and illness took their toll. For his sake you'd never ask, but even one of those days would be a joy for me to re-live.

Happy Father's Day.


I Forgot the List

One unlikely way to learn what you really need is to go to the store and buy what you think you need. Lo and behold, when you get home you'll find any number of things you should have bought.

Although this phenomenon is not readily explained by modern science, researchers believe clues to understanding it may be found by studying episodes of rain being brought on by washing your car.


How To Eat M & M's

There is an age-old question that's been around for, uh, ages, I guess. And the question is: "How shall I eat my M & M's?" This question is just slightly more prevalent than: "How is M & M's spelled? Lowercase "m's" (m & m's) or uppercase?" Or this one: "Are there spaces between the M's and the ampersand or not (M&M's)?"

While I am no expert concerning candy grammar, I can give you some tips on consuming said candy. This is how I do it:

First, I sort the candy-coated chocolates by color. Then begin eating with the longest line. In this case, both red and blue are equally long, so I eat one of each.

That will yield the arrangement below.

Again, choose from the longest line(s), in this case, red, yellow, blue, and brown will each be equally long and so taking one of each will net you a 4-candy mouthful. You see what's happening? As I progress, the amount of candy consumed in a bite gets larger. It's like counting the days until Christmas. Or something.

So, again eating from the the longest lines gets me to here:

Yes. There are 5 lines that are longest. That means I get to eat 5. And when I do . . .

There remains just one multi-colored, six-candy row of goodness.

I eat them.

That is how to eat M & M's. I recommend the Peanut Butter version, but use the variety that gives you the best results. By following these very simple instructions briskly, you can be sure the candy will melt in your mouth and not in your hand.

Feel free to use this at a Lunch 'n' Learn. There is no YouTube version, but scrolling up and down real fast might work for you.


Small Story of a Lot

The Providence of God is most amazing to me.

He showers blessings and calamities where He will, our seeming 'free' decisions serve His purposes, His plans.

How is it that Lot chose the valley of Jordan, leaving Canaan to Abram? (Genesis 13:8-13) Which, by the way, is precisely the area of land that God said He would give to Abram.

It is a small story, but it illustrates this attribute of God, His Providence, very well.


Out Of Touch

Here is a tremendous story from Malcolm Gladwell:

"I don't believe that the world was always better in the past. But I do believe that there are moments when the particular mix of available technologies don't actually combine to make your life better — and I think we're in one of those moments now. I can remember when I worked in the New York bureau of the Washington Post, and Jackie Onassis was near death and I was responsible for writing the story if she died. What I really wanted to do was go to dinner. So what did I do? I went to dinner, and she died —and the office had no way to reach me.

Can we pause, for a moment, and recognize how magical that fact was? I actually remember where I had dinner — The Odeon in Tribeca. There I was in the middle of one of the most important cities in the world, having steak frites at a well-known restaurant two blocks from my apartment, and to the editors of one of the most prestigious newspapers in the world I was effectively invisible. And when they finally tracked me down the next day, I simply apologized for being …out of touch. No one has said the phrase out of touch for at least a decade. There is an entire generation of young people out there who don't even know that those three words can be used in combination."

This is from an e-mail exchange between Gladwell and Bill Simmons, the rest of which you can read here.


Obama's Economy Illustrated

Jay Cost with three charts that show how poorly the economy has performed over the past year or two:

"This is President Obama’s big problem for the November election. This last chart suggests that the answer to Reagan’s old question – “are you better off now than you were four years ago” – is no. The average person is worse off under Obama."

Read the whole thing.