It fell to me to eulogize Dad after his passing. Aside from family that lived in Muskogee, none of his California family, other than me, came to Oklahoma for his funeral.
The night before he was laid to rest, his wife and I sat up talking. Evidently Dad had not only invented an entirely new life for himself, but he did some creative redecorating when it came to his personal history.
In short he had done some lying and I was ashamed by this. It also made it doubly hard to talk him up as if he were a Saint, so I was forced to do what I do best in a bad situation, I improvised.
“You all know my Dad, he could spin a yarn with the best of them and he could talk you into doing jus’ about anything. There’s an old Irish saying: May you be dead and in heaven thirty minutes before the Devil knows you’re dead.”
“Well, I sure that’s what my Dad had in mind, but you know my Dad always had a hitch in his get-along and change in his plans. The way I figure it, Dad saw only one chance to talk with the Devil and he did.”
“So remember the next time you hear a distant thunderstorm, don’t worry—it’s jus’ the Devil complaining about the knot in his tail that Dad talked him into tying. And I thank you for being here today.”
It was the best I could do without having to tell a lie.