If my Dad were still alive, today would be birthday.
While I no longer imagine that I can pick up the phone and call him, I still see him clearly in my mind’s eye. But it is the face of his waning years that I see.
And I can hear his voice. But it is his weakened voice that I hear.
I want to remember the face and voice of my young father—the father who was only about 30 when I first recall watching his early morning ritual.
I was about three when I began watching Dad get ready for work.
I followed him from room to room during this process. I watched him lather his face with a shaving brush and shear paths in the snowy field on his face.
Next I’d look on in awe as he put on his shirt and tie—as he took a necktie from his closet, folded it in loops and turns until it was just right.
After a leisurely start, Dad generally realized he was running late and might miss the train to work
He and Mom had set the clock 15 minutes fast to see if that would hasten things along, but that didn’t help.
On days when Dad was running later than usual, Mom poured his coffee into a saucer, stood by the door—and Dad sipped a bit of coffee as he ran to catch the train.
When I was able to read the comic strips, I remember Dagwood Bumstead memorializing this coffee in a saucer routine.
A child’s sense of pride came over me. I was proud to have a dad who had something in common with a beloved comic strip character.
As ordinary as these rituals seemed, they gave me a grounding, a sense of security—a good way to start the day.
Watching my Dad prepare for work—the same simple ritual five days a week—gave me a grounding in a world in which I—as a small child—had very little control.
Dad’s ritual was a security blanket I could carry in my head.
What rituals do you remember from your childhood? I’d like to hear from you.