In Memory of Dad and Norm
…Unlike my usual shenanigans and zany wordplay, today I want to share something a little different. While I was returning from the LA area, my step-son was taken by ambulance to the hospital. I am told he is fine, however, as a child with a congenital heart defect, we can’t take chances. I am waiting now to pick up he and his mother from the hospital and hopefully spend a rested night together as a family. I thank God that he is okay. . .I hadn’t put much thought into this Father’s Day. I lost my father-in-law last February and my father December 27th.
I got “the call” to come home and be at my dad’s side one last time about a week and a half before we lost him…I was fortunate enough to make a flight home during the hustle and bustle of Christmas. That has been the only Christmas I’ve never spent with them, since we’ve been a family…But, this was “important”…I had to be there for him…for my mom…
But a couple of days before I left for the Midwest, I scrawled down a short program (based on vague recollections of childhood memories)…I performed it at the small church I attend, the day before I left to go home. I hope you will indulge me in this…A Tribute to My Dads:
The Tree Topper
Scene: A Small attic. A few miscellaneous props (a chair,an old doll, knick knacks,etc.) A table sits in the middle of the room with a chest on it. to the right. . a door.
Enter Door-stage right
Man enters with a girl leading him by the arm. Man is holding a cordless phone to his ear.
Girl 1: C’mon dad, mom says the chest is up here!
Man: Okay, honey, hold on (talks into phone)
Yeah, mom, yeah we found the trunk. . .uh huh. . . Just a sec (turns to girl)
Honey,go downstairs and tell your mom I found the decorations for the tree, I’ll be down in a minute.
Girl 1: Okay dad, but don’t forget the star! (girl exits)
Man: Okay (back to the phone)
. . .yeah mom? We found the trunk from your old house.. . I’m sure the tree-topper is in here somewhere. (runs hand along the chest)
…What?. . . Uh, no, I don’t think we’ll be able to make it home this year. . . I know (feigning disappointment)
I’ve got work and with Katie’s new job and the kids’ school programs (opening the trunk and going through some items)
. . .Yeah, I know mom, I promise. . .We’ll help you break in the new place next year. . . Uh, mom? Let me call you back okay? Yeah, I’m getting another call. . Uh huh. . .yeah. . .yeah, love you too. (hangs up the phone and sets it on the table – – -Sighs and starts going through the trunk,pulling out various decorations,old clothes, etc- – -pauses and pulls out a star)
Man smiles. . (satisfied look)
Man: The tree-topper.
(Man starts to close the trunk,but notices something and reaches in. . . pulling out an envelope)
Man: What’s this. . .(inspects envelope)
Man:It’s from Dad. . . To me?
(Man opens the envelope and unfolds the enclosed letter- – -reading aloud)
Man: (reading to himself)
Chances are, if you’re reading this you’re either looking for Christmas decorations for your mother, or I’m no longer with you.
(Man holds up star and looks at it – – continues reading)
First of all. . .Merry Christmas! I miss you all very much, but let me assure you. . . I’m fine. I’m safe and home with our heavenly Father. .
I’m writing this now, while my health is still good enough to tell you how I feel about. . . and how I feel about you.
I’m dying son. . .As sure as the day is long. . . But that’s okay. . . That’s part of life . . .and where I am today, as you read this, is the most precious gift we can be given. . .It’s God’s gift son. . .
You’ve heard the
What a collection of humanity they’ve become. I’m proud of them all. . .and of you.
I want them to know what Christmas really means, Son.
Let me tell you a story I’m not sure you’ve heard. . .
When you kids were little I used to work at a packing plant. We were making it . . .but barely. Your mother had to take on extra work knitting and sewing for other families in the community. All the while taking care of me and you rugrats. I was laid off that year. . 3 weeks before Christmas. My last check barely covered the rent, your mom’s money barely covered the bills. We didn’t know what we were going to eat, let alone buy you kids gifts.
On Christmas Eve, your mother walked to the corner drugstore with $10 and determination in her heart. You kids would have presents. Even if they were candy bars and notebook paper.
That being said, when she got there she couldn’t find a thing. (man smiles)Nothing seemed right until she saw a big stocking filled with little knick knack toys, and odds and ends games and candy). Your mother asked the cashier how much it was. She said it was $15. Determined as you know your mother is, she asked if that was their “best price”.
Needless to say your mother walked out of that drugstore with that stocking. . .and a baby doll for your sister. . .and a tree-topper.
(Man looks at tree-topper)
Yes son. . .that old beat up star that we’ve used all these years. .
The druggist was a church-going man who recognized your mother from making a pair of overalls for his boy. He sent her home her home with our Christmas. . .You may remember it.
It was the puniest tree we’ve ever had. . . But what a Tree-topper
You kids played with those toys ’til the wee-hours. . . It was one of the best Christmas’s we ever had . .
And that’s why we held on to that tree-topper. Like we always held on to hope. . .Like we held on to each other. . .Like we hold on to God’s gift. . .
For God so Loved the world,
That he gave his only begotten son,
That whosoever believeth in him,
Should not perish, but have ever-lasting life. . .
I Love you Son. .Hold on to
Merry Christmas, I’m with you Always. . .
(Door to attic opens Boy holding Girl 2)
Boy: Dad,mom wants to know if you found grandma and grandpa’s star?
(Man wipes tears)
Man: Yeah, yeah (composing himself) I’ll be down in a second
Girl 2: Hurry Dada, I Love You!
Man: Okay. . .I Love you too.
Boy and girl exit (leaving door open)
Man: (Out loud – – to himself) Hold on to God’s gifts
(Man looks at tree topper,holds it to his chest and exits)
End of Scene 1
Middle portion -family attends church service featuring Luke 2
Scene: Older woman sitting in a rocking chair, next to aand listening to .
(Knock at the door) :stage right
Woman gets up,turns down radio and approaches door
Woman:Who is it?
Man: It’s me mom.
Woman: (excitedly opens door to reveal the man and his family) Oh dear!(with joy)
Man: (Extends hand holding tree-topper) I’ve got a gift from Dad. . .
Thanks for indulging me. I performed this 10 days before returning home to be with my dad when he passed away. I’ll be honest, I’VE NEVER WITNESSED A MORE POWERFUL AND PEACEFUL MOMENT. I was lucky to have known him and to have been able to say goodbye. Now, as I wait to pick up my son, I give thanks for the relationships I’ve been given. My dad’s last words to me, after not seeing him for 5 years? “You Seem Smarter”…Thanks Dad…I miss you.
…This is the song and video they played at his funeral…I listen to it from time to time…and celebrate our time together…