A dozen Christmases past, I came to terms with my father after he was reduced to selling beanbags on the corner of a busy intersection.
Once a well-off professional wrestler, he was now in a state of virtual penury following a bitter divorce from his fourth wife.
He was persona non grata with all the bookers and promoters, having angered them with his outrageous demands and disappointed them with his diminishing skills.
Obese, arthritic, and unwanted by his former employers, my father answered a classified advertisement for a commission-based sales position.
The job entailed driving a U-Haul truck filled with beanbags from a warehouse to a spot on the side of the road, whereupon one would attempt to sell the beanbags to passersby.
I wasn’t quite a teenager yet, and I suppose I loathed my father in the same way that most other kids at that awkward age loathed theirs.
One weekend, I accompanied him to the spot where he had established his makeshift sales floor.
Customers slowly trickled in—more than I had expected, but still not that many—and my father met them with all the charm and moxie he could muster.
It surprised me to see him working so hard, since the last decade of his life had been characterized by an inexorable decline into indolence and mental instability.
He wheeled and dealt, grappling over sawbucks with the same ferocity that he had once brought to world title matches.
At the end of the day, he counted his money and we loaded the remaining beanbags back into the U-Haul.
When Christmas Day arrived, there were a handful of gifts under our small tree. One of them was a video game that I had long coveted.
The tag on it read “To Eddy From Santa,” a generic inscription that detracted from its significance.
“I hope you had a good holiday, son,” he said to me after I had opened all of the gifts. “I wish I could just give you hundred dollar bills.”
My father wasn’t a nice person most of the time, but he was telling the truth. “No, it was fine,” I replied. “Everything’s fine.”
For what it’s worth, I never doubted him again.