Not a day goes by that I don’t see something and wonder what my dad, the late Merle Mauch, would have to say about it. And while dad wasn’t one to waste words, when he did speak, he said plenty.
Dad was never one for false praise or wasting time. If he liked you, he’d let you know right away. If he didn’t, ditto. And whichever way he leaned, you could bank on him having given it his fullest consideration.
He was not one to hold a grudge. If you made him angry, he’d give you an opportunity to make things right. He understood that, during the course of his own life, he riled up more than one or two folks himself.
Dad was a great soldier in the Army, fighting “Hitler’s bastards” as he called them in World War II. He knew how to lead and earned the respect of everyone he served with. And, I suspect as much as raised the brow of many of those he would call “high muckety mucks” during his time in the service, they always appreciated his honesty and integrity.
Dad taught me that if you’re going to be doing something a third of each day for most of your life, “do your darndest to find something you like about it.” Those words have guided me through my own life. I feel blessed to have been able to make a living doing things I absolutely adore, for a decade in radio and many years after as a writer.
And yes, Dad told me before he passed that he was proud of the career path I chose.
Dad always tried to find a way to enjoy the company of others. He’d say there’s probably something to like about everybody if you look hard enough.
Dad was always quick with wit. As a kid, if we said we wanted something that he didn’t think we’d earned, one of his favorite expressions was, “Well, wish in one hand and spit in the other and see which one gets wet first.”
Or, he’d often respond with another of his favorites, “People in Hell want ice water, but do you think they’re getting it?”
If Dad was telling you about a place that was far away, he’d often say “It’s at the corner of Poke and Plumb. Poke your head out the window and you’re plumb out of town.”
Dad loved his Louis L’Amour western novels and his western TV shows and movies. If you needed to bother him while “Gunsmoke” was on, someone had better be dying or bringing him a lot of money.
And Dad absolutely hated things that made no sense. For example, during the Watergate trials, he would shake his head and question why anyone would feel the need to be in power so much they’d risk prison.
“If you have to break the law to reach the top, maybe the top’s not worth reaching,” I can hear him say.
Oh, I wonder what he would have to say to politicians today.
“They broke into our nation’s capitol. What else is there to discuss? Doesn’t matter why they did it, it’s a crime,” he’d say.
“How would you like it if folks sent you thoughts and prayers instead of a campaign contribution?” I’m betting would be one of his kinder responses to politicians who do nothing when people are killed in mass shootings week after week.
My dad was a staunch believer in human rights, and he’d say killing kids is not and never should be a human right. As to the Second Amendment, he’d probably ask “And what well-armed militia do you belong to?”
As to the bickering among our political leaders, he’d have a simple question. “If it’s good for America, who cares which party thought of it?”
And, concerning COVID, I can envision him simplifying it with something like, “Let me see, I can get this and die from it. You tell me you’ve got a vaccine that will keep me from dying. Why in the hell is this even up for debate?”
Yep, I miss ya Dad. The world could use a lot more like you these days.