To My Dad
“Allowing yourself to be happy is one of the great joys of the world. Don’t stifle it, but rather encourage it and enjoy.”
– Don Imwalle Sr. (my dad)
Allowing yourself to be happy is easier said than done. My dad worked hard at it all the time. He set a brilliant example.
Weekends at the beach, never went by without a volleyball game. When it came time for the final serve to win the game, you had to serve doing the flamingo (your foot resting at the knee of the other) and saying, “game point hanna shannana” If you forgot to do those things, the point didn’t count and you didn’t win the game.
Seldom a week passed when dad didn’t rally the troops for an evening hot tub. He loved to use the hot tub at night when the stars were out and you could hear the crickets. He would always have a beer in hand and a story to tell. When we would protest the hot tub because we were getting ready for bed. He would say, “twenty minutes in the hot tub is equal to an hour of sleep” It didn’t even make sense but boy oh boy did it. We’d all just be so relaxed chilling out as a family and we’d sleep like little babies those nights.
Twenty minutes. That right there is my dad. There isn’t a single task that took longer than twenty minutes. Not a single one. “But, Dad, I don’t want to go for a hike.” “Twenty minutes, that’s it.” Three hours later, we’d all come home with huge smiles on our faces. Duped into a good time.
Not that our protests really mattered because when it came to having fun, Dad always had the final vote. Sometimes at dinner we’d discuss where we wanted to vacation. A favorite line of dad’s was, “you each have one vote and I have six” (there were six of us in the family). He’d win and we’d find ourselves floating down the mighty Missouri for a week long flyfishing trip. In the end, we all won.
Car rides with him were always an adventure. He was a backroads kind of driver. Taking them wherever they lead him as long as they were nice and slow. If he saw a pretty lady, he was going to slow down and wave, with his four children and wife next to him saying, “oh Don” every time. He did it to get a rise out of his Kaky and to teach his boys how to flirt. But, as he said at my wedding, he wound up teaching me to flirt instead and it scared the bajesus out of him. Ha ha. Guess I could get a rise out of him as well.
Going to the grocery store with him was an opportunity to stock up on any and all junk food that was not allowed in the house. Say good bye to the natural rolled oats aisle that my mom stuck to and hello to the jelly bean bins. Whatever you wanted, you could get. My cousin Allie recently told me a story of how when she was a little girl, she was in Safeway with my dad and they were checking out, my dad looked at her and said, “What the hell is wrong with ya child?” She was confused and probably a little scared and I’m sure he gave a long pregnant pause as he did. “You haven’t asked for any candy. Don’t you want any candy? Go ahead and get anything you want.” THat’s my dad.
Man, he was hilarious. He’d come out with these brilliant one liners that would have you rolling on the ground with laughter. Clever as all get out. However, he wasn’t just one liners. He’d recount days of old with long drawn out stories but you’d find yourself captivated and laughing the whole way through.
He was energizing. He drew crowds around him. He loved whole heartedly. He allowed happiness in when and however he could. I miss him today and every day. Happy Father’s Day, Daddio. I’ll aim for a full belly laugh today in your honor.
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