We pulled up at the restaurant and a valet took our car. Once inside, I looked at the menus. There were a lot of choices, but one thing was missing. “Dad, there are no prices on the menu.”
My dad smiled. If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it.
“…and we can?”
“We’re doing OK.” He smiled and winked at my mom.
Lisa spoke up. “Wow. Y’all are rich! Can I be rich, Uncle Dave?”
He looked at Lisa. “Lisa, you and your mom are family. If we’re doing OK…y’all are doing OK.”
That’s my dad! He had always been kind and generous. Apparently he now had the means to be very generous.
“Dad, I know you must have gotten a gigantic raise to move us into River Oaks. Can you give me a hint how you pulled it off?”
“Oh, a little invention of mine helped.”
“Can you tell us about it?”
“Sure!” He took out a pencil and notepad and drew a circle. “I call it a ‘wheel’. It’s circular in shape…”
“Aw, dad … seriously!”
He put away the pencil and pad. “OK, it’s a procedure I came up with that will greatly speed up the process of mapping the human genome.”
Lisa’s eyes widened, “Wow! You’re working with genes?”
I was amazed myself, “So, you patented this…procedure?”
“No, the patent is in the company’s name.”
“WHAT?”, Lisa and I said in unison.
“Oh, yes. It’s a requirement of employment. Things like this stay with the company. You see, I developed it on company time with company
equipment. I could hardly do it at home. I don’t have a few necessary tools, you know, I don’t have an electron microscope…stuff like that.”
“Wow, that’s too bad. You could’ve been a bgzillionaire!” I could almost see dollar signs in Lisa’s eyes.
“No. There’s no way I could have gotten the patent on my own. The company would have sued me, they would have won. I would be looking for a job and a way to pay a “bgzillion” dollar settlement. Besides, I did sign an employment contract. I want my word to be worth something. Let me tell you, though, the company was not shy about financially rewarding me. Hence, the move to company headquarters, the huge raise, and the resulting move to River Oaks in our beautiful old new house. I’m now working in one of the most advanced, well equipped labs anywhere in the world. This is actually better than hiring a large team of lawyers to get my own patent, hiring someone to market the procedure, hiring more lawyers to sue when someone ignores the patent. All these headaches belong to the company. You might say I belong to the company, but I didn’t come cheap. I hope to be with this company until they wheel me out in a wheelchair…or a coffin.”
Words could not express how proud I was of my dad!
Mom apparently didn’t like the idea of him working ‘forever’. “Davey, you could retire in 10 years easily.”
“I guess you’re right. I have a nice porch. I just need a rocking chair. Let’s not worry about this tonight. I think that waiter coming has our food.”
Our food arrived, and I bit into the biggest, most tender steak I had ever eaten. “Dad, I could get used to this!”
“Go ahead, honey! I am so blessed! Aside from the job stuff, I have a brand new daughter. Incidentally, my new daughter is a beauty.”
“Thanks, dad. If I’m ever as pretty as Lisa, I will be thrilled!”
Lisa spoke up. “I was just thinking, ‘I’ll bet I’m the second prettiest girl in our new school...oops!” She put her hand to her mouth.
“Well,” said Dad as he looked at my mom. “This is news! So when is my beloved sister-in-law moving?”
“It’s news to me too!” my mom said. “Have you spoken to her?”
“No,” said Lisa matter-of-factly, “it will be news to her, too.”
“Dad…mom”, I interjected, “it would be so much help to me to have Lisa here. She been a girl for a while, you know.”
Dad smiled. “Kim, I’ll leave it to you and Shelly to work that out. You know, your sister is more than welcome, and I’m sure she would be a great help to Aaron…excuse me…Amie.”
“You know, Aaron…Amie, I’ve never been an outdoorsman or sportsman. I worried that you were missing out on a lot of the things that other boys do with their dads. All that seems so unimportant now.”
“Dad, I never liked a lot of that stuff, anyway. The only sport I ever liked is volleyball, and most people seem to think it’s OK for girls to play volleyball.”
“Honey, you can play any sport you want. Just as importantly, you can ignore any sport you don’t want to play. Here’s one more thing…I’ll never ask you to mow the lawn again. Actually, I won’t have to mow it, either. I don’t have the time or the mower. It’s going to take a crew to mow our new lawn.”
“Thanks again, dad. You probably would have been embarrassed if you had tried to get me to play a lot of those sports. Have you seen me
throw a ball?”
“Actually, Amie, I’ve seen you throw a ball. I thought, ‘He throws like a girl! ‘. Of course I never would have said that then. I guess it’s OK now. You seem perfectly happy with this change.” He smiled.
Lisa spoke up, “Even I throw a ball better than her. A boy throwing like she throws would be downright embarrassing!”
“Hey…shut up!” I said smiling.
My mom glanced at my dad and said, “One nice thing about being a girl is, if you need a ball thrown, you can get a guy to throw it for you.
Pretty girls like y’all will have guys standing in line to do your ball-throwing for you.”
“Ewww…mom! I’ll just let the ball stay where it is!”
“Yes, I guess it is a bit much to ask you to suddenly stop looking at girls and say, “Oh, look…don’t you think he’s cute?”
“Yes, mom. It’s gross!”
“Well, honey, it OK. You like whomever you like.”
“Yeah, “my dad interjected, “I like girls…women!”
“…and I’m glad of it,” my mom said, acting relieved. “Just don’t like them too much.”
“I like you best!” He kissed my mom on the cheek.
“Y’all get a room! I can handle this dress, the heels, the makeup, the hair, and everything that goes with it, but y’all are about to embarrass me!”
“You’re lucky”, said Lisa. “My parents would be going to fist city by now!”
“I’m sorry, dear.” My mom reached out and touched Lisa’s hand. “No word from your dad?”
“No.” Lisa looked sad. “I didn’t like the fights, but sometimes I miss him, you know?”
“It’s natural, honey. I’m so sorry. It hurts me to see what you and my sister have gone through. I wish there was an answer.”
My dad had lost his smile. “I know it’s natural for a girl to miss her dad, but I don’t think Joe deserves you or your mom. Look at how he treated
y’all! I hate to see you pining for him. Even though he’s your dad, Lisa, I think he should stay gone. Coming back now would only open old wounds, and he wouldn’t stay long. You can count on that. We love you and your mom and, the more I think about it, the more I would like to see y’all move down here with us.”
Lisa smiled. “You mean ‘up’”?
“Houston is farther north than San Antonio.”
My dad shook his head and smiled. “Nitpicker!”
By this time, we had all eaten all we could. There was enough food left for another family.
My dad was practical. “I can’t let this go to waste. I don’t care what they think. I’m getting a doggie bag.”
My stomach told me I would never be hungry again, but my mind knew better. The remaining two thirds of the steak would be delicious tomorrow.
We brazenly filled our doggie bags and left. Even if you have money, there’s no need to waste it. We headed home…too full to talk.
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