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The Book of Wally

On April 1, my father-in-law passed away. He was just shy of his 80th birthday, and the timing of his death wasn’t lost on those of us who knew him. Wally was a repository of corny jokes, and a day hasn’t passed that we haven’t honored his memory by throwing a Wally-ism out.

His was the first death I’ve ever really witnessed, and I’m still trying to process it. The past two weeks have been an exercise in Things That Are Big and Important: Family, Marriage, Friends, Love, Support, Pizza and Wine. I don’t have a concise way to explain it to myself, or to others, so for now, I won’t.

My husband and I each said readings at Wally’s funeral mass last Wednesday. I spent the evening before threatening to replace my reading — from the book of Wisdom — with what I’d call “a reading from the book of Wally.” Then, I said, I’d solemnly tell one of his infamous jokes, lower my head, and take my seat in the pew as if nothing was amiss.

I chickened out that day, but I can’t not share those jokes. So, in lieu of a long-winded exploration of our common mortality and the meaning of life, I offer the following gems in Wally’s memory:

“How many beans do you use to make the perfect soup? 239 — any more and it’s too farty.”

“Did you hear about the Polish lesbian? She liked men.”

“I once had a dog with no legs. His name was Cigar. Every morning I’d take him out for a drag.”

“I checked the obituaries today. Everyone’s still dying in alphabetical order.”

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