“Pick one for me, and then you take two,” he would say.
I would divide reluctantly.
“Now pick one more for me and you take another two,” he would say again and I would do so again, despite my intense desire to defy his request.
The “he” was my Dad and the “dividing” was candy.
Halloween candy… my Halloween candy!
My pops, who at his peak weight was 340 lbs., loved his candy… and apparently mine, too.
Now the only good that comes from having to give up one’s Halloween candy to their Dad is being able to shed circus peanuts, anything with marshmallows, Necco wafers and that horrible invention called the Almond Joy.
Those I could easily remove from the pillowcase that served as my Halloween candy receptacle. He would occasionally push for a Snickers or a Nestle’s Crunch, which I would give up, but not without a fight. On the surface, this standing (read: annoying) tradition, instilled by my father, clouded my love for the Trick or Treat experience.
But more than loving to eat candy, he loved to share candy.
In his later years, after my mom passed, my Dad would send my husband or me to Costco to stock up on about $250 worth of candy (and sodas) every six weeks. He would store them in his apartment at the retirement community where he lived. All the workers there would stop by for a candy bar after their shift or at the end of their lunch.
Sometimes they’d stay and chat. Other times, they’d just grab their sugar fix and go. Either way, my Dad would beam. Half the joy in his life came when he would offer up a candy bar and someone would accept. Take two and the man would be on cloud nine for days. It was that easy to make him happy.
The first time I took him to a doctor’s appointment, I wheeled him up to the counter and from seemingly nowhere he pulled out a plastic bag filled with goodies. “Make sure you all get a piece of candy,” he said to the nurses behind the counter.
They’d chuckle and give the inevitable, “Oh, I surely don’t need another piece of candy,” just before they’d walk over and pull out a Hershey bar. Two minutes later someone would ask him how he was doing. “Crabby,” he’d answer. They all knew better. So did I.
The first time I took him to the eye doctor, the nurse said as he wheeled up to the counter, “Here comes Bob. You better have some candy for me!” He’d clearly been doing this for years.
I could easily imagine him in his apartment getting ready for the appointment, all alone, pulling just the right assortment of candy. Later, when I needed to do the bagging for him, he would say things like, “Get extra Nestle Crunches. I know Jan (the nurse) likes those.” Or, “Grab the big Snickers, not the little kind. Sally will only take one candy bar and she needs something to fill her up!” It was sweet. He was sweet. Pun intended.
A few years ago, I found my father’s high school yearbook. One of the autographs was signed as follows: “Hey Bob. I know I don’t know you too well, but thanks for the candy bars. You’re a great guy.” I cried. He’d been doing this his whole life.
Looking back, I realize my father was a master teacher. Without ever saying, “You need to share”, he held me to it (as a child) and demonstrated it (as an adult). And so, over time, I learned this valuable lesson.
This Halloween, the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum will serve up hundreds of children for their Trick or Treat night. This year and for years to come, that candy will be given in my father’s name. My siblings and I felt this would be a fitting tribute to the man who really was a “candy man”.
“Who can take a sunrise?
Sprinkle it with dew?
Cover it with choc’late and a miracle or two,
The Candy Man.
Oh, the Candy Man can.
The Candy Man can
‘Cause he mixes it with love
And makes the world taste good.”
The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, 11 Sheldon Avenue NE, is hosting its annual Trick or Treat Celebration on Thursday, Oct. 24, from 5 to 8 p.m. Parents and children are encouraged to wear costumes and trick-or-treat throughout the museum, create Halloween-themed art projects such as footprint ghosts and puffball spiders and more.
Admission is $1.50 per person. Contact Adrienne Brown at 616-235-4726 or visit grcm.org for more information.
Teresa L. Thome is co-founder and Managing Partner of Fubble Entertainment. She co-writes and co-produces the Emmy® award winning web series www.backstagedrama.com.
She and her partner are Executive Producers for LaughFest’s signature event having creatively produced shows with Betty White, Alan Zweibel, Martin Short, Kevin Nealon and Wayne Brady. Teresa also served as Executive Director for the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum for more than ten years. She has directed more than 20 theatrical productions in and around West Michigan.
She resides in Grand Rapids, MI with her husband, Fred Stella and two cats, Pickles and Simha. You can read more about Teresa here.
TERESA L. THOME ® 2013 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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