Joyful Spirits

By Tom Attig

Dad worked hard all of his life, on his feet all day, six days a week. At the end of the day, when he arrived home, he was exhausted and had little time for physical play with me. I found such play instead with my older brother, John, and friends. But Dad recognized that life devoted only to work is joyless. He found most of his joy in the comfort of a chair in the living room, taking great delight in following major league baseball. He infected me with that enthusiasm.

Dad also loved to laugh. Together with Mom, we delighted in, first, the radio antics of Fibber McGee and Molly, the Great Gildersleeve, and Amos and Andy and, later, the television comedy of Red Skelton, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Jack Benny, Herb Shriner, and George Gobel. I'll never forget how sometimes we laughed until it hurt. I still thrive in that special agony.

Dad seemed at times to sense that I pushed myself too hard in school or was a bit too serious. He constantly encouraged me simply to "have some fun." He was obviously pleased when he saw how well I took that advice to heart. I share this legacy with my brother. I hear an echo of Dad's words whenever John closes a phone conversation with his familiar watchword, "Live it up." I hear a similar echo as I tell my own children to "be sure to take time to have some fun."


Grandma, too, worked hard throughout her life and set a world's standard for worrying. Still, for all her worry, she simply loved to celebrate. Her children presented her with sons and daughters-in-law and grandchildren in abundance. The occasions for celebration were many, and Grandma was often a glowing presence in the middle of the merry-making. She prepared special dishes, joined in the laughter and singing, cried with delight on occasion, and made the joys of others her own. Soulful as our family gatherings were, they were often at the same time wonderfully high-spirited.