Sunday, January 30, 2005

Zipping the doo-dad

Over the years my dad has had many golf buddies. Many of them became honorary members of our extended family. We grew up memorizing their slightly off-color jokes, bringing them cold Buds, and helping my mom make pastrami sandwiches and popcorn for the returning heroes. Sometimes we were acquainted with their families, and sometimes not.

Mom was especially fond of Dick and his wife Pat. Pat was a very gracious hostess, and Dick is a no pretense, genuinely kind and generous human, and a funny low level bull storyteller. I think that storyteller quality is prominent in the long line of Dad's golf buddies.

Dick showed up one of the first nights we were home and grieving. He sat there telling tales of neighborhood escapades over several decades while we ate roast pork tenderloin and sauerkraut. He told of a couple in one of his supper or bridge clubs where the husband was advancing into Alzheimers. After an evening together, the husband couldn't zip his parka, so Dick tried to help. The Alzheimers guy whopped him upside the head, thinking Dick was trying to grab his doo-dad. This story was one that help jump start us out of our numbness.

Another golf buddy and his wife showed up and told us the story of the traveling transgender pheasant. One of their kids that we grew up with turned into a respectable dentist (which is really amazing). When the son bought out a retiring dentist's practice he inherited a stuffed pheasant.

For over twenty years the dentist and his siblings have been mailing and shipping the pheasant across the country for special occasions. The pheasant has been dressed up as a Thanksgiving turkey and an award-winning band director in a custom uniform with epaulettes. It has gone through post 9/11 airline security in a bride's gown, then gone on a honeymoon with the bride's gown and veil in a pheasant-size hanging travel bag. I know it sounds crazy, but placing the image of the transgender pheasant in our mind, and making us laugh until root beer shot out our nostrils was one of the most healing gifts we received.

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