When I was little, my dad was always the one to take care of things like splinters or stepped-on glass. We would go in his tiny bathroom where the light was bright, and he would get out the tweezers and set to work with me squirming and nervous. He would talk to me with his voice low, and before I knew it the surgery would be over.
Then he would reach up on the shelf for an antiseptic. But instead of alcohol or some other stinging thing, he would get down his bottle of Aqua Velva. It made everything better. It was mostly alcohol, but the scent seemed to take away the sting.
He wasn't always gentle and quiet. Some things that frightened me then make me smile today. Like how he hated for cupboard doors to be ajar. He would angrily slam an open door closed, but we didn't have latches on any of the doors, so the whoosh of air from the slam would push one of its neighbors open, which would frustrate him even more and he would slam that one, which would then force another one open. Sometimes this went on for some tense seconds, which seemed much longer to me at the time, as he moved down the line of doors that kept slamming and popping open. As a grown up, I have to admit, I do sometimes love the satisfaction of slamming a door. And I never slam one without thinking of him and those kitchen cupboards, and laughing at the memory and myself.
Finding a birthday card for him was always a challenge for me. I didn't want to get a sappy card, but I didn't want to get a generic card either. One year I found a card that listed some things that a father would do, then listed the more sentimental things that a daddy would do...A father signs your report card--a daddy helps you study your spelling list...that sort of thing. Well, at the bottom of the card, I wrote, "A father removes your splinters, a daddy puts after shave on it instead of alcohol." A few days later, the phone rang. I picked it up, and he said, "I got a card in the mail today." I wasn't sure what to say, his voice sounded a little strained. Then he went on, "Baby, you made me cry."
I think of that every year. And I'm so glad that I have that memory.
A father might call to say, 'Thanks for the card,'...a daddy said, 'Baby, you made me cry.'
Happy birthday, Daddy.
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