When my daughter, Corrie Petersen told me that her husband, Kevin and son, Josh weren’t feeling very well yesterday, I instinctively told her to tell them that they weren’t sick…it was just the meanness coming out. It’s a funny little saying my dad came up with to lighten the mood when we weren’t feeling well. It’s funny that even when we weren’t feeling well, that comment never failed to make us giggle…along with rolling our eyes, and the whole, normal for kids comment…”Da-a-a-a-d!!” Then, Dad would always grin and try to look innocent, while saying something like, “Wha-a-a-t?” It was just the kind of comment my dad would make. Always act like you are totally innocent in the whole thing, right.
He was always coming up with these strange comments. I remember coming in from playing, crying because I had hurt myself in some minor way. If I stubbed my right big toe, Dad would offer to stomp on my left big toe, because it would make me forget about the pain in my right big toe. It was silliness that added a light tone to the drama that always seems to go along with a house full of girls. Dad was very outnumbered in our house, because with five daughters, he was the only male in the family. I suppose that it’s possible that his silliness was, in reality, a self defense mechanism. Imagine being the only man in a house full of women, five of whom could go from playing happily to squabbling in a matter of minutes.
Sometimes it was the things that people would never expect that we, and later the grandchildren and great grandchildren really liked…oddly. Things like the Whisker Rub, which is just what it sounds like. Dad would grab us and rub his end of the day whiskers across our face. I’m sure there are people out there who would cringe at that, and believe me when I say that Dad had a full face of whickers, but once he was done, we would invariably say, “Do it again, Daddy!!” It was a great game, and he never rubbed hard enough to make it hurt. It was just another way to lighten things up around our house, even if everyone was in a great mood already.
Dad always found creative ways of making us laugh, and maybe that was the reason that we hated it when he worked out of town for a time. His laugh was contagious, and he never really grew up, so playing often included Dad in some way. The grandchildren and great grandchildren can attest to that, because of the game where he sat right by the door of the kitchen, and the kids ran from kitchen to living room and back trying to get by him before he could swat them. They almost never succeeded, but they had a great time playing the game, and Dad just laughed and laughed.
I love those great old memories. And I think it’s awesome that some totally unrelated event, like someone not feeling well, can trigger those precious memories from my childhood days. My only regret now is that we didn’t have the ability, forethought, and accessibility of the camera phone, to take pictures of those silly moments to add to the precious memories that we can only see in now our memory files. Those really were the good old days, and I miss them a lot.