My dad had a, shall we say, unique way about him. His mannerisms, his way of speaking, his laugh, his thought processes, all were so very different from anyone else on this earth. We all try to do Dad impressions when we share stories about him, and none of our imitations sound similar to one another. Either we are lousy mimics or Pops’ persona was impossible to replicate (I prefer to believe the latter).
His voice was both high pitched and a little raspy, especially when he became animated telling stories or jokes. He could also speak so calmly and evenly when what he had to say held a great deal of significance. Either way, people were drawn to listen to Dad.
Each of us has some favorite sayings of my fathers. Here are a few that are often shared when the family gets together:
“I never get bored.” For Dad, there was too much in this world that was interesting enough to explore or ponder. He definitely subscribed to the Buddhist saying, “For the beginner there are endless possibilities, for the expert there are none.” Dad taught us to be curious, to be thoughtful, to be humble and open to new ideas.
“Jeeeeezus Chrrrriist do MIGHTY.” A common exclamation of Dad’s, in response to anything from cutting his finger open with a kitchen knife to accidentally dropping a sock on the floor to getting a letter from the City of Chicago stating that he (or, more accurately, his eldest daughter who was driving a car registered to him) owed the Windy City over $800 in unpaid parking tickets.
“You worry too much, ho-ney.” Mañana Morukian didn’t stress out about much. When one of the many females in his life ran around frenzied, angry, and anxious, he would hug us and tell us not to sweat the small stuff. Which worked…about half the time. The other half we yelled at him and said he could NEVER understand the pressure we faced and run off in a dramatic huff.
“No problem!” This was his typical response to any request for assistance that came his way, be it lending money, driving a friend to a doctor’s appointment, hosting a party, finding odd jobs for someone’s unemployed cousin or kid, teaching summer school, or anything else that gave him the chance to share his time or belongings with others in need.
“Nah, this is my first one…” A common description of his fourth glass of merlot.
“We had fun,” often followed by, “We laughed like hell!” This was accentuated by high pitched guffaws as he related some ridiculous story from his past. Like the time he and his friend got a knife pulled on them. Or the time his army buddy accidentally shot himself in the foot while showing off his illegal sidearm to my dad by pointing it at his face. Or the time he intentionally left my mom standing on the corner for half an hour outside of a bar known for procuring a lady’s company..ok, that one is pretty funny. I laughed like hell when I heard that story, too.
“I goofed.” This was Dad’s typical response to any mistake he made. When he dropped a carton of eggs while unpacking groceries. “I goofed.” When he totaled my mom’s car by driving it into the back of a Detroit city bus and cracked half his ribs…six weeks before their wedding. “I goofed.” When he forgot we were coming to visit and hence to pick us up at the airport. “I goofed.” When he fell asleep with a full glass of red wine in his lap and spilled it all over the living room carpet. “I goofed.” When he accidentally glued ashtrays to my mom’s favorite coffee table. You guessed it. “I goofed.” As angry as he could make you, when he smiled with his crinkly brown eyes and said those words, there was no way to stay mad.
“Wha hoppen?” This was a common phrase uttered by him when we ran to him crying, because we skinned a knee, someone hurt our feelings, or we lost our favorite sticker. This was a common phrase he’d use after we had irritated him to the breaking point and he’d blown a gasket, probably yelling a melange of curse words at us and sending us running to our rooms, sobbing. Two minutes later he would come into the room and ask, “Ho-ney, wha hoppen?” We’d hug him, even though moments ago he had been the source of our sobbing, and all would be forgiven between us.
If it’s true that people who we lose live on in us, then my father has taken up permanent residence in my mind. I hear his voice chuckling and sharing his little wisdoms with me daily. When I’m anxious, uncertain, angry, impatient, I hear his calm froggy voice telling me, “Ho-ney, wha hoppen? You worry too much!” When I’m acting like a fool, laughing, just letting my freak flag fly, I hear him shaking his head with a secret smile of approval, saying, “Goddamn crazy broad.”
Happy Father’s Day, Pops. You will always be the best dad a girl could dream of having.