My Dad used to say, “whad’ya know” a lot. Sometimes it was an exultation: “Whad’ya know!” after some discovery or realization or surprise. Often it was a question: “Hey Den, whad ‘ya know…?” about some random thing that I had little or no interest in. I’m afraid that I was often dismissive. “Dad, I have no idea…” was my standard response, all the while thinking, “what the hell…?”. Those were missed opportunities. I wish now I would have told him what I knew or more likely what I didn’t know. And listened (really listened) to what he knew. We lost Dad last year and those questions will never be asked again (nor answered, nor dismissed).
Grief is a funny thing. Sometimes it knocks you on your ass. You’re cruising along and everything is fine and suddenly a smell or song or leaf falling or a door closing will trigger a memory and you are immobilized. You feel frozen in time or thought and that undeniable ache crushes your entire spirit. More often though, grief gently taps you on the shoulder or hugs you around the neck and says, “slow down, whad’ya know, you’re going to be okay”. Grief can give you back those precious memories and allow your mind and spirit to simmer in those sweet moments, knowing they will never truly be lost.
What I do know is this: I’m a lot like my Dad. I probably say “what’ya know” more often than I realize. I know I’m always asking my kids and grandkids “what’ya know?” about random stuff and important stuff, too. They’re more tolerant than I am (or I’m oblivious to their dismissiveness). Either way, I’m fine.
I just want them to know what I do know: that I care about what they’re doing and that I love them. I’m often amazed at how brilliant they are: “What’d ya know, my oldest granddaughter is learning welding! What’d ya know, another granddaughter is learning French and has all A’s in her high school classes!”
I have a fun plaque in my home office that reads: “Ask Dad – he knows everything!” Well, I don’t, but I appreciate the sentiment. I don’t even know where I got the plaque. Or if it was a gift or something that I claimed from my Dad’s belongings. I doesn’t matter. I just hope my kids and grandkids occasionally ask me what I know (I might even have an answer worthy of their time) and I pray that they will continue to allow me to ask them what they know. Their wealth of knowledge is a treasure.
And as I continue to marvel at what I don’t know and exclaim, “What’d ya know!” at my discoveries I will rejoice in my newfound knowledge. I will thank God for new memories as I tuck them away for safe keeping with the old ones.
Hear, my son, your father’s instruction. Proverbs 1:8