I loved this story from The Wichita Eagle about a son who reconciled with his dad.
I had a strained relationship with my Dad that he was aware of, and a reverence for him that I had hidden from him. I knew a secret that not even he knew: He had created me, and not only with a biological act.
I was a police and courthouse reporter for the Kansas City Star. I lived in an apartment about 20 minutes from the hospital and had told Mom that my apartment would be the base camp for family as Dad died. …
On the way home, I stopped at a liquor store and bought three 8-packs of Miller. Miller in those days sold regular 12-ounce six-packs, but also 8-ounce beers in 8-packs. Pony beers, we called them. They fit nicely inside coat pockets. …
Dad tried to twist off the cap. He could not do it. He had been the strongest man I’d ever known; milking cows, twisting wrenches, lifting heavy pieces of machinery, tossing 70-pound hay bales into feeder bunks. But he had spent two months coughing before Mom got him to a hospital. He had lost muscle; skin hung off his forearms. His hands had a little shake.
I took his bottle, twisted off the cap and handed it back. He watched beer bubbles float from bottom to top, took a sip.
The family began telling stories.
“Two old guys love baseball. They grew up listening to games on the radio, and saw every game they could see. They sat on the front porch every night and listened to the announcer call the games. They got very old, and one day made a deal: The first to die would come back from the dead and tell whether there was baseball in heaven.
“One day one of the old guys passed on. Not long after, his friend is on the porch listening to a night game, and sure enough there’s a ghost on the porch.
“ ‘Great!’ the alive guy says. ‘So is there baseball in heaven?’
“ ‘I have good news and bad news,’ the ghost says. ‘The good news is there is baseball in heaven.’
“ ‘What’s the bad news?’ his friend asks.
“ ‘You’re pitching on Friday.’ ” …
For better or worse in this life, I became a creature that he created: a believer in the redeeming power of storytelling. Stories were medicine and magic, as Uncle Jim had shown when he led us in mocking death with laughter. Jim has saved the lives of hundreds of children desperately sick with kidney disease; he is a man of science. But in the hospital room, where no science could save my Dad, Jim goaded us to tell stories that mocked death. He got Dad to rise up and take his dignity back, to laugh in the face of death.