It#039;s the simple things that remain with us

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 14, 2003

The sound of the telephone woke me from a deep sleep in the early hours of last Veterans Day. It was just after midnight when I heard the words.

"Daddy is gone."

I remember driving through the darkness trying to come to terms with the fact that my father was dead. The radio was on because I wanted the comforting sound of human voices.

Midway up the dirt road that leads from my house, bits and pieces of the lyrics from a song caught my attention.

It was kind of a love song, but it seemed connected to Daddy, so I turned up the volume.

"Hey, time won't wait

Life goes by

Every day's a brand new sky Š

Š Just remember

ŠThe simple things are free

The sun, the moon, the stars

The beating of two hearts

How I love the simple things

The simple things just are Š"

"Daddy you appreciated the simple things," I whispered as I turned onto the highway.

That night I touched my father's face for the last time and said goodbye.

In the past year, I've searched for proof that Daddy is still with me and it arrived on Monday morning in a way that only Daddy could send it.

You see my father was a storyteller and he loved to make you laugh. He could look at life, appreciate the small moments, wrap them up in words and give them as a gift.

Anyway on Monday I was talking with my mother-in-law and the subject of old timey rolling stores came up. Immediately one of Daddy's stories came to mind and I started telling it like I heard him do so many times.

You see before I was born, my Daddy had a distributing business, kind of a rolling store. The story took place when he was out on the road calling on the small stores that were his customers.

Daddy said he stopped at a restaurant on his route and was eating in peace when a large woman came in and starting going from table to table.

Apparently she had a condition that caused her to have what she called "fits." To support herself she sold sundries. Her sales pitch included an explanation of her condition, followed by a description of her products.

"She was loud," Daddy said. "Everyone was watching as she went around the tables."

Since he was sitting alone and hoped to avoid a long conversation, Daddy figured out a way to move her past his table quickly.

Since he was sitting alone and wanted to avoid a long conversation, Daddy thought of a way to give her a donation without buying anything and hopefully move her past his table quickly.

This is the part where Daddy started to laugh.

"Well, she got this look on her face like she had found a long-lost friend," he'd say, laughing a little harder. "Everybody was watching to see what was going to happen.

"She looked at me and smiled and I knew I was in trouble. Then she put her hands on her hips and yelled, 'Oh, you have fits, too.'"

By now, his words were coming out between bouts of laughter.

"I don't remember what I said to her or how I got out of that restaurant," he said, wiping tears from his eyes.

By the time I finished telling the story, I was laughing as hard as Daddy once laughed.

I hung up knowing I had my proof. Daddy is still with me because he was there as I told his story.

He was with me as I wiped the tears of laughter from my eyes and he will be with me forever because like the song said on that November night a year ago:

Š After all the clouds go by

The simple things remain Š