By Rick Lingberg
It was 2001. I was interviewing my dad for a video program I was producing for my folks' 50th wedding anniversary. The question I posed was, "If I asked mom what it was that you did that most annoyed her, what do you think she would say?" His response was immediate, humorous and, upon much reflection (on my part), profound and insightful. His brief answer, only 13 seconds long, not only served as the premise for the title of this presentation but left me a thought that would serve to guide me in relationships of marriage and family, work and community, friends and acquaintances for a lifetime.
You see, I believe Dad's succinct "funny" remark wasn't meant to be just amusing but a metaphor to help me get through challenging times. You would never hear him say, "Metaphorically speaking..." He would think that would sound "too full of yourself." Dad naturally told good stories and let them speak for themselves. I must admit, over the years, he probably told me a few hundred "learning points," very few of which I remember, but I'll never forget his comment about onions and radishes.
"The thing that really gets her is when I eat radishes and onions and drink beer. Then I have a gas problem both ways, and that irks her all the time."
There is a proverb that says, "Tell me a fact, and I'll learn; tell me a truth, and I'll believe; but tell me a story, and it will live in my heart forever."
I'm pretty sure Dad wanted me to realize that I would run into a few situations in life that would give me a bit of "indigestion"; that's normal. But, more importantly, what he wanted me to know and believe in my heart was that, if I just hung in there and loved what I was doing and the people I was doing it with, then life "ain't all onions and radishes." Because that's what he did.
I now keep "Dad in My Pocket" where he's always available even though he's been gone for 5 years. Anytime I want, I can still see his face, hear his voice (the chuckle, the grin) and think about onions and radishes. I simply pull out my phone and click a couple of buttons, and there he is, if only for 13 seconds. That's all it takes. My day instantly becomes better (at least more manageable). Wouldn't he be surprised, or would he?