by Sidney S. Stark
My father always burst through the front door of our apartment when he came home seemingly unaided by human effort. I’m sure it had something to do with the spirit of adventure and cosmic energy that hovered around Daddy wherever he went. He had an air about him that convinced you something exciting could happen (and probably would) at any moment; stay close by and you’d be part of it. But usually he was just coming home after a long day of work so in my childhood I tried to adjust my expectations accordingly. There were of course plenty of truly special events that followed his entrances, but I tried not to anticipate them every time I heard the door open followed by his cheerful, energetic call of “I’m home!” There was that one night after I’d grown up, however, when the events surpassed my expectations.
Daddy had a serious problem with retirement; he didn’t want it, couldn’t deal with it and almost let it kill him. Finally he decided to fight back; he just forgot to tell any of the family he’d figured out how. Daddy was attending a meeting of one of the advisory boards he still served on after retirement. It was a big mid-western mining and manufacturing company. I decided to visit Mummy one evening during his trip away with my two young sons in tow. We were trying to keep her busy and cheered up while he was gone as I knew Mummy was getting lonely. She seemed to have no life of her own when he wasn’t around. I thought my boys might serve as a welcome distraction that evening since Daddy’d been gone almost a week and we still weren’t sure when he’d be coming back.