My step-father-in-law Jim died a couple of years ago. Two years ago today, to be exact. He got sick, and then he didn’t get better.
Jim told the best stories. He would tell the same stories over and over again, and they were classics in our family. He led a colorful life, starting from when he left home at 15 years of age and made his living as a bare-knuckle fighter.
My kids and I liked hearing his stories. Most of them. I’d have to stop him every once in awhile. “No, Jim, you can’t tell that story to my kids.” He grew up without a filter, so he had no idea where the line was.
While we could listen to his stories over and over, though, his wife was so bored of them she’d try to change the subject whenever possible. He’d start a story, she’d interrupt and change the subject, and he would just sit there patiently and let her talk. When she was done, there would be a short silence. He’d wait a beat, then say, “So anyway…” and continue on with his story.
We made plans to video him telling all of his stories one December when we knew his wife would be out of town and he’d have time. But he got sick in November.
Maybe I’ll tell one or two of his stories here, but I suspect it wouldn’t be the same without seeing his facial expressions and hearing the sound effects and hearing him laugh. I’ll tell you, it would make my job a whole lot easier if I could just tell one of Jim’s stories in every ad I wrote. Better yet would have been product placement in a video of him telling one of his stories.
I know what will happen when I see Jim again. I’ll walk up to him, and he’ll be engaged in a conversation with Abraham Lincoln and Moses and William Shakespeare. He’ll be listening and smiling and nodding as Abe finishes telling the one about the frog in Mary Todd’s flour barrel, and they’ll all laugh, and there will be a brief pause. Then like music to my ears, I’ll hear Jim say, “So anyway…”