“Read this aloud,” says Dad, eyes lit up and pointing an obituary cut out from the paper and taped to the wall beside him.
“This was Dad’s favourite poem:” it begins.
Taeja, my niece, has mentioned a poem Dad asks her to read aloud when she passes through the room.
Home for the weekend, it’s my turn to perform.
“Oh the whiskey was spilled on the bar-room floor
And the bar was closed for the night.
A little grey mouse came out of his hole in the floor
To dance in the pale moonlight.
He lapped up the whiskey on the bar-room floor
And back on his haunches he sat.
And all through the night, you could hear him roar,
“Bring on the goddamn cat!”
I laugh while reading the last line. Dad’s ready and waiting to join me.
The next morning, I listen from bed as Lynn and Taeja’s boyfriend, James, take their turns reading the poem aloud in the other room. And like me, I hear them each break into a laugh while reading aloud the final line. Dad joins in right behind them.
It hits me, Dad’s joy at witnessing a joke trigger laughter in another person.
A comedic storyteller, he respects and appreciates the man and his family who chose to inspire laughter at a time of loss and grief.
“You’ve got to keep your sense of humour,” says Dad.
He works hard to keep his.
So bring on the goddamn cat!