You might also like

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The hair brush in my bed


In the middle of the night, long, long ago, I woke up wild, thrashing, struggling with the covers. I was in terror, sobbing deeply.

Suddenly my father appeared, untangled me from the winter blankets, asked what frightened me so. It was formless, but he put a word to it—fright. What caused it.

The hairbrush in my bed, I sobbed. He kindly explained there was no hair brush; I didn't believe him. A hair brush was hurting my feet. He took all the covers off the bed to show no hair brush.

He sent me to the bathroom and to get a drink; when I came back the bed would be made up again. I left, but I knew the terrible hair brush must be there.

When I returned the bed was turned down. I was doubtful and reluctant. “I found the brush,” my father said. “It’s there on your dresser.”

The awful stinging in my foot was gone, and the culprit hairbrush was safe away on the dresser. I went back to bed.

I remember my young interactions with my father as his little acts of kindness. Locating the hairbrush, explaining quarters were big nickels, five of them, teaching me to tie my shoes, reading books to me, reading Heidi. We began the book one evening, and he got Heidi up the mountain and to her grandfather’s door.

The next day he was taken to the hospital. When he came home two thirds of his stomach was gone, in removal of ulcerating lesions. It was 1949 or 1950. He was still a young man, in his early forties, but he became old and withdrawn.

Dad was unapproachable when he came home from the hospital. I remember him at the end of the supper table, eating little dabs of baby food from his plate. I remember him coming home from work, exhausted, asleep after supper

Several months into his recovery he asked me to get Heidi, for us to finish. But I had pushed my second grade reading skill to the limit and finished it while he was in the hospital. “Oh, I finished it.”

More illness faced my father; each decade saw him less able, more frail.

We occasionally reached out to each other, but the connections weren't satisfactory. Mother was a buffer. And child rearing those decades was rather hands off. Perhaps it made children more independent. Our obligations were to go to school, do homework and come home in summer when the streetlights came on.

Do I wish differently? Not really. He was always there when I needed him, especially to take me to the emergency room for stitches.  My father passed away years ago, on President’s Day in the midst of another record cold winter, probably why I've thought of him today.

The hairbrush in my bed is one of my earliest memories of my father; him surrounded by his grandchildren among the last. This picture is the last one from dad’s camera.




32 comments:

  1. What a wonderful looking man. Hedgehog on your dressing table might have been nicer.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dads always know what to do to make us feel better. Miss mine too.

    ReplyDelete
  3. A quarter is a big nickel How sweet.
    You father must have been one handsome gentleman. Mine was too. I miss him a lot too.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love stories like this. Thanks for another cracker, Joanne!
    Jane x

    ReplyDelete
  5. Your memories of the hairbrush brought back so many memories of my own father.... He was 44 when I was born... and 84 when he died..... he'd be 116 in a couple of weeks... he was the principle caregiver of me when from about 3 years old.... so many mixed emotions for me.... But.. back to your own... that is a precious photo of him with his grandchildren... what a treasure.

    ReplyDelete
  6. A poignant piece, nice written. :-)

    Pearl

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a lovely post. Your dad has a very kind face and sounds like a very good man.

    ReplyDelete
  8. A very smart man, and a wonderful story well told. I hope you write more of these memories.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Awww, that was just beautiful, Joanne. What a sweet-looking man your father was. I'm so sorry his health made your relationship a little more difficult and I'm sorry you finished Heidi by yourself. Still, that's a lovely memory you have and it brought a tear to my eye. ox

    ReplyDelete
  10. So good that you have those memories and that photo says a lot. I think those we love who pass on come back to keep tabs on us and give us more love. We just need to keep our hearts open.

    ReplyDelete
  11. We all have special memories of our dads I know I do.
    Merle...........

    ReplyDelete
  12. What a sweet picture for the last picture in his camera. So sorry his illnesses prevented a closer bond between the two of you. My dad died when I was 18 months old so I have no memories of him, just stories my mom told of times we shared together.

    betty

    ReplyDelete
  13. You and your dad look so much alike, Joanne. Having a kind father is a piece of good fortune that not everyone is lucky enough to have. I count myself very fortunate to have a good one too. It's sad that your dad had such health issues.

    ReplyDelete
  14. It's a lovely photo Joanne, there is much kindness in your Dad's face.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Such a moving piece of writing on so many levels. Parental relationships are never simple - always complex and full of emotion.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hari OM
    Memories. The makings of wonderful writings... YAM xx

    ReplyDelete
  17. What wonderful treasured memories you have of your father, thank you for sharing them with us.

    ReplyDelete
  18. What a beautiful picture and what a handsome man -- in the picture he reminds me a bit of Clint Eastwood! Lovely tribute to your father, Joanne...

    ReplyDelete
  19. What a fabulous picture and a lovely story. You write so well.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Precious early memories of you father, Joanne and the photo of him surrounded by his grand children is lovely too.

    ReplyDelete
  21. What a sad photo. Your father didn't look healthy. Blessings to you for remembering what you remember, though.

    ReplyDelete
  22. How nice that you have that last picture surrounded by all the grandkids. What a wonderful way to remember him.

    ReplyDelete
  23. That's a beautiful post and very nice photo. Thanks for sharing.

    Love,
    Janie

    ReplyDelete
  24. giving up our fathers is a day to day thing-never really complete.what a blessing.

    ReplyDelete
  25. This is beautiful, Joanne. I'm glad you didn't lose your dad too early despite his health problems. He sounds like a man who did his best and loved his family.

    ReplyDelete
  26. That's a wonderful photo Joanne. Good to have someone to soothe the fears away.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Well, there goes the mascara and I just put it on....what a lovely tribute. And your Dad and my Da sound very much alike. My Da also had three fourths of his stomach removed at age 34 for ulcers! I seem to be knocking into my Da everywhere these days. I saw the movie, "Saving Mr. Banks" on Sunday and wept throughout it because P L Travers' father reminded me very much of my own. Here's to all those wonderful Fathers....we were lucky, yes?

    ReplyDelete
  28. THat was a lovely if bittersweet story. Very poignant. xoxox

    ReplyDelete
  29. What a wonderful man your father was, and that last photo is so sweet.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Joanne, thank you so much for sharing this heartfelt post. It touches me deeply. Your father was a wonderful man....and I absolutely love this photo!

    ReplyDelete
  31. What a tender sweet/sad memory! The hairbrush event encapsulates it all.

    ReplyDelete