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Monaghan Wit

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Monaghan Wit

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Updated October 14, 2013
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Category Books & Reference

Description

My father saw a lot of death, indeed he did.Monaghan Wit He’s my hero.

“…clouds of mustard gas burned lungs, eyes, and killed too many of my buddies from Ohio, son,” Dad told me at last, when he was an old man. “These were boys I went to school with, friends who fought at my side in the trenches, often enough with no masks. My job was better, I could see what was up. I would pop up from the trench, then run back and forth from the Army’s command to the front lines while spooling radio wire…all I did was keep them in touch and work the radios. They’d shout “RADIO” and I’d come running as “the radio man”. No wireless in those days, son…”

He’s my hero.

Toward evening at my house it was nearly always the same. In his work-soiled Penny’s duds—I was just eleven—he’d flop down in his favorite pillowed chair in the living room. Opening the newspaper, he’d say “Betty, a little wine?” and start reading. He was a speed reader. Mom was getting dinner ready in the kitchen, and she knew he was tired. It’d been a long hard day as a Superintendent for a big electrical contractor. He’d look at me for a second, then wink, “and a taste for my man, too?”

Then in just minutes he’d spring up from the chair, nearly sloshing his wine. He’d talk in a loud voice so mom could hear while she did supper. Pacing the thin carpet he’d be raving about what he’d read in the paper, adding his opinions and arguing even with himself. Mom didn’t say very much but she’d be smiling…she was a stay-at-home mom and so-o glad to hear his voice. I’d sip my “taste” and watch.

I’d think to myself, hearing all this, “How can a man know so much?” I knew he ‘d only been to six grades, and here I was now his equal.

He’s my hero.

When it got about nine-thirty (no television in our house yet, dad was a holdout), I was off to bed, mom saying, “lights out,” right after Inner Sanctum, one of my best chiller radio programs.

I’d dig out my home made crystal-set and scratch the wire on the galena crystal under the covers. Finally I’d hear baseball on the headset amidst the crackle. Under the covers with my flashlight, I’d read maybe Dr. Doolittle or some Sci-Fi. The house got quiet as mom and dad went to bed.

If I’d forgotten earlier, I’d have to pee in the night. When I got up—at one or two in the morning—I’d find dad sitting in his favorite chair, reading. He didn’t like to sleep much, considered it a gift.

On Saturday, if he wasn’t working on his lathe, or in the backyard on a big project, he’d take me to the University Book Store. This is where he got his reading material—engineering and geology books. When he built things, he would sometimes apply for a patent—“…a little something to protect my ideas,” he told me. If it wasn’t the bookstore, it was the junkyard. “Parts,” he’d say. I liked the junkyard best.

He’s my hero.

When he got very old, he had a stroke—but he could still walk, talk, and make sense. One time I went to the desert with him (after the stroke and near to the end). We went to a project of his on our wilderness property in the southern Arizona desert. There he’d worked with a Univ. of Ariz. professor on a water invention. He looked at the many interconnected tubes and manifolds, all of it dwarfing us as we stood there looking down.

A tear had leaked from his eye, “Son, I’m looking at this…I can’t remember how I did it….”

A gasp racked my chest as I turned away. I said nothing…I have children too.

He’s my hero.

Content rating: Low Maturity

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