Losing my dad was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through. His illness was prolonged and I took his death hard. My dad, whom we affectionately referred to as “Big Joe,” had always been the rock of the family; he kept everyone safe, he always had money and he was the only one who was able to conceive of and pull off practical jokes seamlessly. We relied on his good mood. So, when he died, I thought any sense of fun might have died along with him. At this point, I think it’s fair to say that Big Joe did everything in his power not to allow that to happen.
Shortly after the funeral, a package arrived at the house. It was a random mat. None of us knew anything about it and quickly forgot about it. We had a lot of other things on our minds. Then, a week later, a piece of – something – showed up. A few days later, another piece of something. After about 2 weeks, we had figured out what was coming. It was a home exercise gym. A very large home gym. Despite his stroke, he had somehow managed to have ordered it before his death, paid with his credit card, and asked that it be delivered in smaller pieces. My brother Steve and I have no doubt this was his last attempt at a practical joke with us. My dad – well, how can I say this – wasn’t in the best physical shape. Even in a state of illness, that man was able to keep a sense of humor about himself and send a little levity our way. The real joke was when we tried to return it. I would have spent less shipping a herd of cattle across the country.
Once the home gym fiasco settled down, Steve and I started the task of cleaning out some of Big Joe’s stuff. We were both looking for things of sentimental value more than anything. An argument broke out between us over a small coin bank that Big Joe kept on his dresser. It was made like a bank vault with a neat little combination lock on the front. Big Joe had made us both memorize the combination.
The reason for remembering the combination wasn’t because there were great treasures inside. No, just pennies. A lot of pennies. My dad had a thing for pennies. He loved them. He collected them. Not old pennies or rare pennies – just everyday pennies. After he had accumulated a number of these pennies, he would force Steve and I to sit on the floor and roll the pennies so that we could take them to the bank to deposit them. As kids, we hated this task.
In the midst of our argument, we joked that we would probably find some pennies somewhere to wrap. And, we did. My dad had hidden jars of pennies under his workbench. Jars the size of potato sacks. All full, to the top, with pennies. Big Joe had managed to hide those suckers from us all those years as he slowly built up the biggest prank ever. He got us – again.
It will be 12 years this month since my dad’s death, and every once in a while, Steve and I will sit down on the floor and roll some pennies – for nostalgic reasons. I mean, there are enough to roll for a lifetime! These days, my three-year-old daughter is around to watch us roll our pennies. She has the same eyes as my dad. Same sense of humor too. Paradigms really do transfer through DNA.
While we are rolling pennies, my daughter is busy hiding her own little practical jokes. She hides the car keys, my wallet, pieces of cheese, every roll of toilet paper in the house, all while giggling. And she finds some good hiding places because I can still smell rotting cheese and I have no idea where it is coming from.
Big Joe might not be here physically but he found a way for his good mood to live on, through his jokes and through my daughter. Not every experience may leave you in a good mood, but if you look hard enough, sometimes you can find a glimpse of that good mood hidden amongst the dull copper glow of some old pennies. The point is, your good mood is always there – you just have to look for it.
Dannie De Novo
Dannie’s new book Get In A Good Mood & Stay There is now available on amazon.com. Foreword by Bob Proctor himself. For more info on the book and about Dannie, check out her website at: www.danniedenovo.com