Saturday, April 1, 2023
April 1, 2023

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Everybody Has a Story: The day Daddy got in the last word


For many years, I lived in the Chicago area, while my daddy still lived in the southern Illinois community where my sisters and I grew up. My mother had died some years earlier from dementia. My older sister lived a few hours north of me in Wisconsin, and my youngest sister and her family lived in a small city in the center of the state, so it was natural that her home became a family gathering place on occasional weekends and many holidays.

We were a family of strong, assertive daughters, with all the drama a houseful of girls could generate. Mom had been the primary referee, warden and occasional dictator. Daddy was mostly a silent presence in our lives. But during one of our weekend visits, Daddy most definitely got in the last word.

At the time, for health reasons, I was eating a disgusting-tasting cereal for breakfast. The only thing making it the least bit palatable was a sliced banana on top. So, when I packed my bags, I added the cereal and two bananas, one for Saturday morning and the other for Sunday.

On these visits, breakfasts were generally do-it-yourself, and dinners were cooked and eaten at home. Lunches, however, were usually eaten out, with the visitors picking up the check.

Saturday morning’s breakfast passed without incident. I ate my cereal and banana, and put the other banana on a corner of the kitchen counter for the next morning. Daddy showed up shortly before noon, and we all headed out to lunch. After that we visited and played cards, Daddy’s favorite pastime.

On Sunday, I got up early as usual and went into the kitchen to make my breakfast. Daddy, also an early riser, was already sitting at the kitchen table sipping coffee, the empty cereal bowl in front of him evidence that he had already had breakfast. I grabbed my cereal and went to get the banana. It wasn’t there! “Where’s my banana?” I cried.

“Oh,” Daddy said. “I ate that with my Cheerios.”

I am not proud of what happened next. Instead of acting like a responsible 40-something adult, I reverted to my terrible twos. I threw a tantrum, which certainly shocked Daddy. I went on and on, whining about the lost banana. As other family members came into the kitchen, I continued to tell the story of Daddy and my banana. I should have been put in timeout.

All storms pass, and eventually I became civilized again. The rest of the morning passed amicably. We all forgot about the earlier drama. Or so I thought.

As planned, we went to a favorite Chinese restaurant for lunch. We shared our choices and enjoyed the outing. When the fortune cookies were served, we all took turns reading our fortunes out loud to the rest of the family.

Daddy went last. He broke open his cookie, studied the fortune for a few seconds, and then with a totally straight face, intoned, “Never eat the last banana.” We all burst out laughing, and I’m sure my face was bright red.

In time, I stopped eating the disgusting cereal. All too soon, Daddy stopped driving, no longer trusting his reflexes, and eventually he died. My sisters and I moved away. The family weekends became a memory only. But when I think of those times, I always end up remembering, with a smile, the day Daddy got in the last word.

Everybody Has a Story welcomes nonfiction contributions, 1,000 words maximum, and relevant photographs. Send to: or P.O. Box 180, Vancouver WA, 98666. Call “Everybody Has an Editor” Scott Hewitt, 360-735-4525, with questions.