I guess I never really knew my father.
Yes, I knew where he grew up, I knew he'd been in the Navy, but a lot of other things that I should've known about him, I just didn't.
For instance: back in the late 50s, my dad was at a drive-in restaurant with some of his friends -- boys and girls mingling about, laughing, having a good time -- when he spied a young lady sitting alone in her car.
He got up the nerve, walked over to her, and the very first words that came out of his mouth were:
"You sure are stuck up."
One thing leads to another, he buys her a shake, takes her out for a few rounds of Putt-Putt, then BAM! -- 57 years of marriage.
I never knew he was a guy who could use a lousy pickup line, and actually make it work.
* * *
He was also a big teaser, but everybody knew that.
I have memories of him taking us to restaurants, and when the bill came, he would reach into his pocket, and with a shocked look on his face, he'd say, "Oh no. I forgot my wallet. I guess you boys are gonna have to do some dishes."
I don't know about my brother, but my heart was beating 90 miles per hour.
But just at the last moment, he'd pull out his wallet and say, "Oh, here it is. I guess you boys got lucky this time."
He even pulled that trick on us when we were kids.
* * *
I knew my father loved to play Santa Claus, and games like 42 and Chicken-Foot, but I never knew he was The Monopoly Man.
Now, if you don't mind, and even if you do, I want you to take out your phones and Google Monopoly Man. Look for an image. I'll wait.
One of his students at school noticed the resemblance and called him The Monopoly Man. Then more did. Then he "cashed in" on the idea and started to use the Monopoly cards as an incentive for them to act right. And I want you know, just a few weeks ago, one of the meal servers at the retirement center where my parents moved to, one of the meal servers came up to him and said, "Has anybody ever told you, ya look like The Monopoly Man?"
Can you imagine?
My father, The Monopoly Man, Santa Claus, a Navy veteran, a big teaser, someone who loved to travel, make wooden toys, fish, play golf, go bowling, watch movies, grill hamburgers, read Westerns, go to church, a hard worker, a good listener, kind, gentle, loving, caring, funny, a man who always had a smile on his face, and a lover of cappuccinos and root beer floats.
I didn't know my father well.
But I knew enough.