In my adult years I learned the mature thing was to steer the subject away from the grumpy stuff. It didn’t always work. Eventually, certain topics were totally banned:
c. political ideology
d. various Fords that had betrayed him.
Not long before he died he and I installed a screen door together and when we finished he said, "There. Now we can quit fighting." That surprised me. Where did he get that idea? We weren't fighting; we were just disagreeing. After thinking about it for a while I realized the truth but I didn’t have the heart to tell him: he was mostly fighting with himself. Despite grumpy periods, my Dad taught me things I still think about and I’m certain he would find it silly and unfortunate which things actually stuck with me:
- Pepper puts hair on your chest. So does sauerkraut.
- If you pick your nose and eat it, flies will grow in your stomach. (My favourite.)
- Women should not be skinny.
- If it’s truly a good Western, at some point a woman should punch a man.
- You don’t need a drink.
- You're not as good as your brothers.
- A brand new vehicle is probably a waste of money.
- Insurance is a scam.
- Don’t be mean to girls.
- Driving fast is worth the risk.
- Some people don’t pay their bills but you always will.
- Give your kids whatever they want.
- Never let go of your fishing rod.
- Help your neighbours, even the ones who are idiots.
- Hard work is all there is.
At least for some of these lessons, thank you Dad.