no tears, just joy and lots of laughter...

Mom & Dad 1966
My father LOVED to laugh. His laugh would ricochet around the room like a sonic BOOM leaving you with no choice but to join in. He always had a joke at the ready usually beginning with "There was a priest, a minister and a rabbi..." I think he had a 1001 of those lovely little diddy's.

Oh how I wish he was here to tell me one today.

This day, May 24, 2010 marks the ninth anniversary of my Dad's death. It's a day that evokes deep emotion for me, his eldest daughter. But I must admit that not all of it is sad. As time works it's magic on my heart, I remember him with more joy now than sorrow. I remember how his smile would take over his whole face and how he loved to tell a good story about some of his hijinks's growing up.

My Dad had a penchant for crazy antics. One time, when he was a kid while living in Minnesota, he wanted to see what it would be like to race down a ski jump. So he and a few of his buddies fashioned homemade skies out of wooden planks tied to their boots with twine and went down a jump at a local college. Let's just say, he did not score well for his landing.

When he was a freshman in college, he was on the front page of the local paper, photographed with a bucket full of ladies undergarments taking part in a fraternity row "panty raid". Needless to say when he was ratted out by one of his younger brothers, my Grandpa brought him home and the next year he was going to school a little closer to the family instead of across the country.

Daddy, Chris & me - 1968
Many people say that not only do I look like my Dad but my personality and his were very similar. We are stubborn, obstinate people with a funny streak. I don't dispute that, given my track record for practical jokes in my own past.

When I was in the eighth grade my friend Suzanne and I hatched a diabolical plan that could not fail, or so we thought. We put clear toothpaste over the light switches in the boys bathroom and Vaseline on the toilet seats and then covered the bowls with saran wrap so if someone sat down or stood would be interesting. We waited to see what would happen NOT anticipating that the first person to use the facilities would be Brother William, the schools principal.

I will never forget the image of that man (God rest his soul) running out of the bathroom with toilet paper trailing behind him, his face as red as a beet, looking down the hall trying to see who perpetrated this awful deed all the while trying to wipe the goo off his hands with paper towels.

We had tried to be quiet as Miss Jordan made the rounds trying to find the culprits but alas we were not successful. The torrents of laughter coming from the girls bathroom gave us away. Like my father before me, I was never very good at hiding.

Grandpa & Courtney - 1995
I received three days of after school detention and a visit to Father Madigan's (the pastor) office for my troubles. When my mother came to get me, she shook her head and informed me that my father would be dolling out my punishment when I got home.
In dread I waited in my room for what seemed like hours, my heart pounding, my armpits sweating wondering how many privileges I was going to lose and how many extra chores I would have to do.

Finally my father arrived home and I heard his ominous footsteps coming down the hall to my bedroom. I stood when he came into my room and a rush of explanation poured forth before I could stop myself.

He simply held out his hand and told me to sit down.

"But Dad..." I said begging his understanding.

"Be quiet Mary Beth."

He meant business. Life as I knew it, was over. I dropped my head and began to cry. He sat down next to me on my bed, put his arm around my shoulder...

...and started... laugh!

He was laughing???

How could this be???

Then he told me the "panty raid" story for the first time and how much trouble he got into. We laughed for at least 20 minutes and I thought I was home free.

After all we pranksters had just bonded hadn't we?

Yea...not so much.

He was my Dad after all and there was detention involved, a visit to the pastor's office and the whole "embarrassing your mother factor" to take into consideration.

It was NOT my finest moment.

On the day of my father's wake do you know what story I found Fr. Madigan telling?

Yep, you guessed it. Mary Beth Green and the Vaseline!

He was laughing so hard he had tears rolling down his face. My twelve year old son was ALL ears!

My parents 30th Wedding Anniversary - 1995
Payback is hell isn't it?

So on this day, I will laugh when I think of him. I will tell a few great stories and I will raise a pint to my Dad.

He wouldn't want it any other way. you Daddy with love and lots of laughter!

Mary Beth