What’ll I Do?

“I have to believe,” Dad said smiling, looking across the table at the lot of us.  By an amazing coincidence (school vacations) we had an unplanned family gathering — all seven of us, plus respective spouses and grandkids there in Florida at the same time.

It was bitter-sweet, though, we all knew would be the last with all of us together.  Mom was fading quickly.

The laughter and individual conversations and one liners quieted down as we all expected Dad to give a toast.

“When I look at all five of you,” Dad paused, smiled, put his arm around Mom, “I have to believe … that your mom and I — are at least first cousins.”

The crowd roared.

My Dad wasn’t much for sentimentality.  He was a wise-ass, and a very funny man with terrific comedic timing.  But in his heart he was a romantic.  And he loved those sappy, romantic songs from the 1930s and 1940s.  Of course he did, he fell in love with Mom when she was singing them.

Actually, Dad wouldn’t tell me how he met Mom.  Well, he told me how they met many times.  A different story every single time I asked, with the more outrageous ones coming out if Mom was in the room.  It became a wonderful game for the two of us.  How he met the girl of his dreams.

“Dad?  How’d you meet Mom?”

“One day I found myself whistling a happy tune, turned the corner and saw her and figured out why I was whistling.”

“Dad?  How’d you meet Mom?”

“Who?”

“Dad?  How’d you meet Mom?”

“I was just walking down the street one day, and she chased after me.  She never DID let me go.”

“Dad?  How’d you meet Mom?” I asked when I was hospitalized for the first time.

“She was singing in a show.  She was the prettiest thing I’d ever seen.  So I went back stage.”

I don’t really know if that was the real answer, but I suspect it is.  Because Dad always had a soft spot for those old torch songs.  And he loved to hear Mom sing them — which she did with such style, even if she was washing dishes as she sang.

So here, for Dad and his lady, is one of Dad’s favorites.  I can remember him telling me the story of Irving Berlin and Ellin Mackay.  They fell in love but her father disapproved, and sent her off to Europe.  He wrote this song and married the girl.

Happy Father’s Day to my Dad, to my Husband (a wonderful Dad) and to all of you Dads.

(And Frank?  You guessed it — John HATES this song!)

 

 

75 Comments

Filed under Bloggin' Buddies, Dad, Family, Holidays, Mom, Taking Care of Each Other

75 responses to “What’ll I Do?

  1. Pingback: Heartbreak | FiftyFourandAHalf

  2. Any man who whistles is a man I want to meet…even if it isn’t true! 🙂 Great, heartfelt story, Elyse!

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  3. Your dad sounds like a lot of fun. I love that song, as did my mom – it’s from that era.

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    • He was really more funny than fun, actually. But that was fine with me.

      And glad you love that song too. It’s been stuck in my head all week!

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  4. Sweet, sweet story, Elyse. Happy belated day to all your fine men!

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  5. Well, I guess we know where you got your sense of humour and your ability to spin a good yarn. Those moments of of laughter will always be the best memories. Thanks for this, Elyse.

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  6. LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS. You really brought your father right into the room with me!

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  7. I love hearing stories about men who really love their wives (and the wives that love them back). I think it’s because it something I’ve always wanted, but that wonderful connection eluded me in two marriages. At least I have that unconditional love for and from my children — it’s the best thing ever! Your family sounds lovely!

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    • Thanks, Jana. I was really lucky to have grown up with my parents — but like all families we have had our share of disharmony, believe me! I try to accept the faults though and hope they accept mine.

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  8. Eva

    Oh, wow. That was lovely, Elyse.:)

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  9. Ahhhh, what a wonderful tribute!

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  10. Twindaddy

    Awwwwww….

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  11. In the end, all we really have are memories and the people right around us. Thank you for sharing this post, Elyse. It was a joy to read.

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  12. I may have to steal that first cousins line. And I love the stories he told about meeting your Mom… I remember you referencing this in another post, when you were ill (I think?). Very touching.

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    • Be my guest — the cousins line is a gem, and I am willing to share.

      I wish I could remember more of the crazier stories he told me about how they met. I can remember giggling as a girl with each one. And you have a good memory. When I was hospitalized for the first time, Dad did tell me a less crazy version of how they met. Since he’d always made a game of it, it terrified me when I thought he was telling me the truth — thought that he wanted to tell me before I died (which I assumed was imminent). Scared the daylights out of me, actually. But it didn’t quite fit with the thrust of this story!

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  13. Paul

    That’s such a neat story Elyse. Thanks for sharing, it was very enjoyable. Happy Father’s Day!

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  14. Ah, your dad does indeed sound like a romantic, and sounds like you might have got your storytelling ability from him. Very cool story, dude.

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    • Thanks, Trend. He was a gruff bear except where my Mom was concerned. And me. See that little man in the palm of my hand? It’s not my husband!

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  15. I’ve got a feeling you have a lot of your dad’s personality. Meanwhile, of course I knew John dislikes that song, so here’s a challenge for you .. a post featuring a few songs that he likes (that you don’t).

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  16. My mother loved these songs too. Your parents sound adorable!

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  17. Sounds like your father would make for a very entertaining dinner guest! Fun story. 🙂

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  18. Ah, that is such a sweet story and such a good song. You are such a sentimentalist, I like that about you.

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  19. 1jaded1

    What a sweet (and funny) story. Thank you for sharing it and the song.

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  20. So now I know where you get your perfect comedic timing! Such a beautiful post, Elyse. Full of sweetness and love!

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    • It is much harder to get the timing right in writing, actually.

      And the whole family is/was hilarious. After the first night of this reunion, my nephew tried to set up a video. Sadly it didn’t work. Having 7 wits in a room is great fun!

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  21. Your father sound like a fun man. Good story.

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  22. Don’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie Big Fish, but if you ever get a chance, you should see it … I have a feeling you’ll see a lot of your dad in the movie (tall tales that you just can’t help smiling about, and sometimes, can’t help believing). When the movie began, I almost walked out, thinking it was not at all my kind of movie. I’m glad I stayed, and saw it all the way through. Has a lot to say about truth, dads, writing, and life.

    Enjoyed your post, and enjoyed listening to Nat King Cole while leaving a comment. The first time I heard him sing, it was in an old diner, on one of those old timey jukeboxes that flipped the 45 rpm record down. Loved it then, and love it now.

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    • I just read about the movie. The story line and cast look wonderful. I will find it. But it ‘snot yet on Netflix so it may take a while!

      Most of my dad’s stories were true, though. He led a colorful life!

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      • I wasn’t meaning to equate the Tall Tales that you’ll find in the movie with the stories that your dad used to tell, other than that they would share the commonality of stories that were richly abundant with clever and colorful and incredibly enjoyable details. I won’t deliver a spoiler on the movie, but don’t be surprised if what you believed about truth going into the movie doesn’t shift by the time you get to the end of the movie. I absolutely adore when someone can spin a good story, adding flourishes and sparkles and laughter along the way — that was the part that I think would remind me of your dad. 🙂

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        • Oh, I know you weren’t accusing my poor dead dad of being a compulsive liar! (I couldn’t resist phrasing it that way — forgive me!)

          I love the idea of the movie and I think I need to find it. The premise sounds wonderful!

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          • that made me laugh – compulsive liar – ha ha ha, Elyse is so funny – she should practically be a stand up comedienne 🙂

            it is rare that I feel compelled to sing the praises of any movie, but Big Fish has that unique blend of suspended reality, bare bones truth, intellectual challenge, and a heart-warming storyline to tie it all together. I would never have expected it to become a favorite movie of mine, so I suppose you can add surprise to the list. Yes, I do so enjoy when a movie (or book) manages to surprise me. I get so bored with stories when you can see the ending coming from miles away. Try harder, people. Give it your best effort. This movie is one of the rare ones where the writers gave their best effort. Heck, I may just have to rummage around and find my DVD, and watch it again. 🙂

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  23. One of my favorite songs. The story of your father and mother is lovely. You’re a lucky lady.

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  24. A beautiful story. And I enjoyed Nat King Cole’s song. He was a popular singer when I was a little girl. Thanks. Brought back nice memories. 🙂

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