My father’s friend Michael died last week. Michael had one arm. Well technically, he had one and a half arms. His right arm was missing from the elbow down.
Whenever Michael would come to our house, he would say something like, “Don’t ever scratch a mosquito bite, or you’ll end up like this.” Or he might say, “If you shake hands with a woman of the night, her sin will eat up your arm.”
I asked Mother what women of the night were.
“Girls who don’t eat all their broccoli,” she said.
Of course the real story was Michael lost his arm as a teenager. It happened one night, while Daddy and Michael were riding the county roads. They were no doubt tight as a couple of ticks. While Daddy drove, Michael shoved his arm out the speeding passenger window to grab a handful of daisies growing tall near the roadside.
For a girl.
Daddy rode as close to the ditch as he could. Michael reached out and came up empty handed. He tried again. But it was dark. And Michael didn’t see the fencepost.
Daddy once told me he had three regrets in his life. Michael’s right arm, not going to college, and I never learned the third. But Michael held no grudges. At my father’s funeral Michael told me, “Your daddy was the best damn friend I ever had.” Michael used his hook to wipe his eyes and said, “I’d give my good arm to have him back.” But as it turns out, there was no need.
Because now Michael has his friend and his arms.