You Would Have Liked my Dad

Posted December 17, 2010 by jimhigley

(Note: My dad passed away 13 years ago today. To celebrate his life, I’m sharing one of many stories that I’m sure he’d chuckle over. My dad was a mountain of laughs. What made him extraordinary, however, was the expansive compassion, love, and loyalty for the people in his life. I certainly hope to be a small reflection of the man he was. Enjoy the story – he’d like to know that he still makes people smile.) 

“Hey, Jim, wake up. Wa-aaaaaaake up. I need you to help me do something.”
Not exactly the words a sleeping fifteen-year-old boy wants to hear whispered into his left ear. Before five a.m. By his father.

I rolled over on my stomach and hid my head under the pillow.

“Come on, Jim. Wa-aaake up. This will be really funny,” he continued. “I’ll take you out for breakfast when we’re done.”
“I don’t want breakfast, Dad, go awaaaaaa,” but my complaint faded as he started in with his trademark back scratching. He was using his morning feather-touch technique. And, it was working. My dad didn’t have soft hands. Nor were they rough. But you could feel the ridges of his fingerprints as they gently floated across your skin. He was good.
And, he was the one man I would never say “no” to.
My back scratch was short-lived and in no time I was dressed and sitting next to my dad as he drove us through our town. The traffic lights were still blinking the steady pattern reserved for the middle of the night. It was a Saturday morning and my dad had been playing cards the night before with some of his buddies. Apparently, he was the evening’s big winner. And Charlie, a good friend, was the night’s loser.
“You’ve just cost my wife the new refrigerator I was supposed to buy her over the weekend,” Charlie supposedly had complained to my dad as they were calling it a night. “I am so screwed.”
And, it was that comment from Charlie to my father that triggered my dad’s early morning prank.
We lived in a small town in the middle of Nebraska. It was the kind of town where everyone knows everyone. Literally. And, somehow, between the end of the card game and those wee hours of Saturday morning, my dad was able to solicit help from the owner of our local appliance store—which is where I found myself with my father at 5:18 a.m. We were there to pick up a refrigerator. An old, smelly, moldy, scratched-up Frigidaire someone had traded in. It was waiting for us in the back alley.
“I’d love to see the look on Charlie’s face when he finds this on his front porch,” my dad shared with me gleefully.
“Dad, you’re crazy!” I answered back. “He’ll be furious. This is so stupid…”
“No, no, It’s funny,” my dad replied.  “He can get some guys to move it. It’s really funny. Trust me.”
So at 5:45 a.m., my dad and I pulled up to Charlie’s house, on a very dark street,  and—like cat burglars—quietly carried the old refrigerator to the front porch so it would greet Charlie, face-to-face, when he came out to pick up his morning newspaper. And, before putting the dumpy old appliance in its final position, my dad pulled out a big, fat, black marker and wrote the words, “SORRY CHARLIE!” on the refrigerator door.
Like a child on Christmas morning, my dad couldn’t wait to hear this unfold. Charlie’s call arrived a little before seven a.m. His wife was not amused. At least initially.

But, my dad was not one you could easily get upset with. I guess having an enormous heart trumped everything else in his life.

Ashton Kutcher may think he’s the mastermind behind the idea of getting “Punk’d.”  That’s funny. This Punk’s on him.

He obviously never knew my dad.