About 15 years ago, after seeing the movie “Dad,’’ starring Jack Lemmon and Ted Danson, I dreamed that my father showed up unexpectedly on my doorstep one morning.
Back in the summer of 2008, when I still covered state government for the Sioux Falls newspaper, a legislative committee studied gas taxes and highway costs in a series of meetings that involved some open, frank discussion.
Perhaps because I was born in 1944 a few months before June 6, I've always been fascinated by D-Day, the Allied military operation that ultimately liberated Western Europe and led to the defeat of Nazi Germany. Today is the 74th anniversary of the start of that massive invasion of the European continent, an operation that took place on five separate beaches in Normandy on the coast of the English Channel in France. As best I can tell from past reading and current online searches, D-Day involved the largest gathering of invasion forces in the world's history of military operations.
Here's something I learned while hanging around a Little League baseball field years ago: The smartest baseball minds are often not the people who volunteer to manage and coach teams of young kids. Here's another: The most knowledgeable umpires aren't the people behind home plate or out past second base. In my experience as a father who tried to help out with my sons' teams even though I knew almost nothing about baseball, the smartest coaches and umpires sit in the stands during the games.
For a number of years, our older son accompanied his grandmother to the cemetery atop the river bluffs near Chamberlain on Memorial Day weekend to clean and decorate the graves of several family members.
I made a casual remark on Facebook the other day, and someone asked if I was planning to run for governor. Let's address that first. No, I wasn't launching a trial balloon for governor or any other office. I'm too old, I have no interest, I have no money and there's no way in the world I could say the same thing five or 10 times a day for two months straight and act like I'd just, at that moment, thought of it.
If our present home had a storm cellar like the one back on the farm, Nancy and I might have hunkered down in it for a while Thursday night. We don't have such a shelter, not right at hand. We sat in the living room, listening to the rain that hammered the north windows and watching the heavy patio swing whip back and forth like a small kite in a whirlwind. Sheets of lightning lit the mass of menacing clouds above the roofs of neighboring houses. An occasional fork of lightning accompanied by a crack of thunder kept us from getting too comfortable.
When I came down with a bad case of croup as a kid, my mom built a tent in the living room and made me lie inside on a blanket next to a gurgling, bubbling steamer for hours and hours. I thought of that home remedy as I contemplated the approach of Mother's Day. I did a search for "croup,'' because it occurred to me that I had never questioned whether that was a real ailment or the term my mom invented. I was pleasantly surprised to discover, through a Mayo Clinic site, that croup is a real thing, an infection of the upper airways, usually in children.
When my dad died in the Chamberlain hospital in the summer of 1968, the only person in the room with him was Nancy. My mom and some of my siblings had been there but had stepped away. I was outside in the hallway, trying to work up the courage to return to the overheated room where the shell of the strongest man I'd ever known lay dying of cancer. Nancy, my spouse of just one year, was with Henry Woster in his last moments.
I've had a long, rewarding career as a newspaper reporter, but there was a time I considered going into the management, even ownership, side of the business. That was back in college, when 20-year-olds are free to dream big and aren't afraid to share their dreams with good friends. My friend was a Lake Preston kid named Curt. We took journalism courses together at South Dakota State.