“Let’s go shopping.”
“Keep the change.”
“Pass the cottage cheese, please.”
“Jim, tell us about the movie.”
“Would you like control of the channel changer?”
“I think I’ll shave my head.”
“All I want for Christmas is some socks.”
“Let’s get a dog and a couple of cats.”
This list of things my Dad never said is an excerpt from a handwritten list in a journal I asked him to write in while he endured chemotherapy in the spring of 1996. Seeing his handwriting brings me back to my childhood. Reading his list makes me hear him laughing, a silent rush of air through his smile. A trademark Jim-laugh that somehow I have inherited and have witnessed all of my siblings do. The man taught us that when you need a laugh, go ahead and crack yourself up.
With the list is a note: “During the day I’m O.K. Lots of activity, distractions, etc. to keep away the negative thoughts. At night they take over. I dilute them with thoughts about my Judy and my children and my grandchildren. Making lists is a day-time thing.”
I love that Daddy thought of his wife as ‘my Judy.’ I have used the possessive ‘my’ in my first novel in which the family refers to each other with this inclusive and sweet endearment. Sweeter than ‘honey’ or ‘dear,’ ‘my Judy’ showed how much my father treasured my mom.
James D. Malone, Sr. led a life too short yet densely packed with love and laughter from September 7, 1938-February 17, 1997. Today, on the day he would’ve turned 75, his granddaughter is in labor trying to bring his great-granddaughter, Grace, into the world.
P.S. 10 hours later: Baby Grace is here!