Wash your hands
This morning washing my hands I realized this:
Perhaps the one and only truly useful thing my father ever taught me was how to wash my hands. In one of the only memories I have spending alone time with my father I am five years old, in the bathroom I shared with my three brothers. I stand on a step stool, my back to my father’s button downed front, the knotted tie around his neck now loosened. It is dinner time, and he’s just arrived home after taking the L train from the city. In my memory, I waited every night for this special time with my father, as he helped get me ready for dinner. He holds my little hands in his large hands, with a bar of Ivory soap under the warm water as he makes suds, then sets the soap down and continues to gently rub my hands until it’s time to rinse the soap completely off before patting dry with the light green hand towel that hangs next to the wall-length bathroom mirror. In this way, my father showed he was capable of nurturing his one and only daughter, a memory I hold with tenderness; I cherished time with my father, rare and special moments forever etched onto my heart. Still, some sadness lingers, because these snippets of experiences were never enough, and a father is supposed to be there for his daughter across her growing years to impart much more than proper hygiene techniques. Still, my father was a gem among men, starting his family at age 22, working full time, and maintaining an active personal life filled with softball, bowling, and card games. He knew how to have fun, this I saw. It would have been helpful to have learned that from my father; fun’s never been my strong suit.
Perhaps this time in quarantine, with memories bubbling to the surface, I can peer into my life’s regrets, forgive those against whom I’ve been holding a grudge, and realize life isn’t over, just on pause. Push pause to reflect. This, I believe I can do.