Other than siring me, my father did little for me.
Oh, he gave some advice though I can’t say I have used it much.
A few of his gems. . .
A woman’s hair is her crowning beauty. I cut my hair a few times and endured hours of his beratement. As a consequence, I’m fixated on my hair’s color, length, and texture. I feel absolutely panicked in a salon chair and spend hundreds every other month to try to achieve perfection. The other day, I finally took a pair of barber’s shears and clipped off three inches of dry frizz. I feel great.
Always play the house odds. I don’t gamble, not even the occasional lottery ticket. I’ve applied this one by becoming completely terrified of taking chances. Recently I have begun to plot a new life for myself. Nobody would make book on what I’m planning; it’s been called a pipe dream. And the house odds? Against it. I’m going for it anyway.
Never draw to an inside straight. A friend recently disabused me of the meaning of this particular poker pearl of wisdom, which I have apparently misunderstood. I’m tossing it in the discard pile.
Despite the hope of optimists, the facts of life persist. He who turns the other cheek, gets hit with the other fist. My dad had this written on a scrap of paper taped above his workbench. I read it every time I went down to the basement. The nuns would say, “Turn the other cheek,” and I’d think, “Oh yeah, like that’s a good idea.” By age sixty, I’ve gotten to the point at which I’m willing to endure the potential of a back-handed slap just to prove my father wrong.
But my dad did one good thing for me. When I began a decline into frailness as a child of seven or eight, he made me an honorary member of the Eat Dessert First Club. Only I belonged to it of all eight children in my household. I assume that the doctor had admonished my parents to get me to eat, regardless.
This act of my father’s has stood me in good stead more than once. When my mother-in-law grew frail in her last illness, I persuaded my beloved curmudgeon to let her have an ice cream bar even if she didn’t eat her dinner. Calories is calories, I told Jay, so often that eventually he thought he had coined the phrase. I told Joanna that she and I were the only two members of the Eat Dessert First Club. Her eyes twinkled as she nibbled on the frozen confection which Jay had brought from the freezer.
Tonight, I employed my Club membership once more. After a long day with clients and a lingering headache from eating something with honey in it, my neck tight from worry over court tomorrow, I came home and headed straight for the refrigerator. I got out a carton of “Whole Fruit” black cherry sorbet, and filled a small bowl with a half-cup of the creamy confection.
Nothing ever tasted so good since the pumpkin pie which my Dad let me eat before the liver and onions which the other kids had to gag down before getting dessert.
It’s late on the twenty-sixth day of the thirty-first month of My [Never-Ending] Year Without Complaining. It’s my brother Mark’s 63rd birthday;; the anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, and the tail end of the day on which the first woman has been nominated for candidacy for the President of these great United States. Here in my little cabin-in-the-sky hideaway, my feet have swelled, my head still hurts, and I’ve stayed awake too long to rise as early as I must in order to get downtown and claim one of the few designated handicapped spots by the courthouse. But life continues.
This mop of hair would make my dad proud.