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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

National Mom: Just Like my Dad!

Growing up my father was larger than life. He spoke loud, he drank loud. He did his entire life loud. By trade my dad was a teacher, during the summer vacations he worked as a bartender in the Catskill Mountains. On the side he was a bookie, but that's a WHOLE other column. For so many summer days I would watch him set up the bar in the afternoon. In would walk some of the comedy greats, Rodney Dangerfield, Jackie Mason, Totie Fields. They were there to do their soundcheck. Is it a wonder I feel so at home in a bar? That I became a comedian myself? I wanted to be just like him (many would say I am).

I remember when I was just a little girl, I would sit and watch him shave every morning. The shaking of the shaving cream can, filling the sink with water, getting out his razor. The sound of the razor against his skin, the dipping of the razor in the water, then the tapping. How I so wanted to be him.

One morning I asked him if I could shave with him and lo and behold he said yes. Quite the odd request from a girl. I'm sure he was thinking of the therapy bills coming down the pike. I stood next to him on the toilet bowl lid and put shaving cream on my face and with a toothbrush followed everything my dad did. Even patted my self down with what I will assume was old spice and, off to school! I went smelling like my dad, but beaming.

I got so much of who I am from my dad, especially my sense of humor. My dad could tell a joke! Laughing was something we always shared and I would learn to share as I grew up. We would watch I Love Lucy during dinner, Abbot and Costello on Sundays before football and my beloved Marx Brothers whenever their movies showed on tv. I can still remember me and my dad on our family vacation in Europe repeating lines from Go West as we walked down cobblestone streets.

My dad is 81 now, his step a little slower, his mind a little weaker. It's easy to get frustrated with him as I still move at the speed of sound. He's still loud but that's because his hearing is going. That's what the sadness of aging is, you remember the young and vibrant person you once were as you look in the mirror and see someone who is breaking down. It's what happens, it's life. I do worry about him. When the time will come when he can't do for himself, what then? One thing for sure, I got dibs on giving him a shave.

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