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Dedicated to Dad
By William Frank Hulse III
I was out on the back patio, grilling some hamburgers. After talking to the two dogs next door I sat down at a little café/bistro table my wife arranged as a little hygge spot for us. Out of the corner of my eye I caught movement and turned to see a beautiful yellow butterfly go passing by, on its way to a luncheon appointment I suppose. I smiled at the thought and then, for some reason, my father came to mind. He died 18 years ago but he has this clever way of making his presence known. Sometimes, it’s one of his nifty quotes that he borrowed from Will Rogers – a local hero of ours. Other times it’s his shadow that looms large when I’m guessing what next or what now. Those two questions seem to demand a little conversation with Dad. What would you do Dad? He’ll laugh and ask me, “What are you paying me?” He often said, “Free advice is worth exactly what you paid for it.” Isn’t that great! It was his theory that unsolicited advice had a hidden price tag, and I supposed there’s some truth in that.
So, Dad shows up unexpectedly and inquires how I’m doing. I might as well be honest, he could always read me like a book. When he died, after a long battle with cancer, I was devastated. He had beat the cancer but the aftershocks just kept coming. Like a friend of mine said about her husband, Alan, “He was broken.” Neither Dad nor my lifetime friend Alan were emotionally or spiritually broken but their bodies just gave out. But, Dad left behind tangible evidence of his emotional and spiritual health in a number of ways. In Mom’s wallet, in which she almost never keeps money, Dad had folded up a tissue thin page, like from a Bible. It was a love letter folded and then folded again. When Mom opened it up she was overjoyed. It was a number of months after his death, maybe even a year. Dad was faithful and loving even in death.
I could stop now and you’d be none the wiser about Dad’s big secret. Over the years he had the habit of stashing money in the oddest places. It was emergency cash that he kept at home in case one of his many friends came by and asked for help. The circumstances were varied but the loan had the same terms – no interest, pay me back when and if you can. He wouldn’t have made a very good banker but he was a fine friend. Time marched on after his death and Mom was doing a bit of downsizing. She asked me if I wanted a nice wooden, windup mantel clock. It hadn’t worked in years but I thought I’d take it to a clock repair person and find out if it was worth restoring. I asked my bride to give it a once over so that the dust and grime of a lifetime didn’t mar its finish. She opened to clock because Mom said the key to wind the clock was inside. Inside there was an envelope; no address or note but ten $100 dollar bills! We took it over to Mom’s and she was blown away but she knew the culprit! Dad visited that clock for some reason with $1,000. Mom insisted we take $500 as a discovery fee. We argued until I could see it was a lost cause. Mom wanted to share with us.
Dad probably never heard the word hygge. But he had a knack for coming to the rescue when he learned of one of the little old ladies from church had a problem – money, snow shoveling, lawn mowing and the like. I like to think of him as a hygge deliveryman, always ready to bring comfort, contentment and grand memories.
William Frank Hulse III is a native Oklahoman, born and raised in the Indian Cowboy Oilman community of Pawhuska. He began his college career at Central State College in Edmond but enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1968. While serving in the military Frank completed his undergraduate degree with the University of Maryland. Upon his return to civilian life in 1975, Frank was employed by Phillips Petroleum Company for almost 30 years. Since retiring he plays guitar and writes.