"Joy is already inside you, but you need things to trigger it and bring it out," Dad explained as we left the diner. "A long time ago, I was always thinking, what the hell is my raison d'etre , you know, my reason to live -- it couldn't be just to go to work and come home every day. Then, 25 years ago, something came to me during meditation, it was a woman's voice -- not really a voice , but when you meditate and contemplate shit, stuff comes to you, and this came to me in the sound of a woman's voice -- and she said, 'Your job is to raise and educate your children.' Now that's done; you girls are all grown and doing quite well. So for a while, I've been thinking, now what?"
"And?" I asked, allowing Dad to open the car door for me. I waited for an answer while Dad settled behind the steering wheel and buckled his
"Well, what's been coming to me lately are two words: love and service. Some people donate money or spend time on the back end, but I'm tangible, I like to touch whatever's happening. Whether I'm volunteering for Special Delivery and bringing food to people with AIDS or helping a kid decide on a wish, I'm where the rubber meets the road. And nothing brings me greater joy in life than being a wish granter for Make-a-Wish."
Immediately after speaking the words, Dad gushed disclaimers about the pleasure he derives from his grandchildren and that he also finds joy in all that stuff of life he thinks are supposed to bring him joy.
"You don't need to explain yourself to me, Dad." We arrived back at the church, where I'd left my car. He parked so that he could get out and give me a hug. In the tradition of his mother, who had a fondness for all things French, we kissed each other on each cheek and embraced. With my cheek still on my father's shoulder, I said, "It's like you always say, Dad -- there's no right or wrong, things just are, and the rest is left up to interpretation. You like helping sick kids. Even I can't find anything negative about that. But drinking ketchup for breakfast? That might be something you want to ask the psychic about."