Dad Memory #1: His Teeth

O.K., that isn’t fair: what this memory is really about is the sink in his and my mother’s bathroom. It was a double sink—his the one closest to the window that looked out over the Sound—and every time I stood in front of it, I measured my height from where I was (my eyes at the same level as the tube of toothpaste by the sink) to the mirror, high above. One day, I used to think, I would be able to see over the sink. I looked forward to that day.

If I sat on the toilet (with the lid down), though, I could watch my father shave. I think I remember him in pants with a belt and no shirt, but that may be because I have a photograph of him like that, with me hanging on his back, my arms around his neck, my brother Ian pointing at the camera with a Civil War hat at a jaunty angle, my brother Peter squatting on the floor, smiling.

Anyway, I remember the white bottle of Old Spice, its neck tapering. I remember my dad’s ring—a small one, with a diamond—by a glass. Somehow I remember his teeth in the glass, immersed in water, but I don’t remember ever seeing him toothless. The truth is, I’m writing this down partly so I can see how much I remember: Is it a finite number of memories? Once I get started, will they go on and on?

This is what I would do: I would put shaving cream all over my face, including on my forehead, and I would shave it off with one of my mother’s bobby pins. I would stand on the toilet, and look in the mirror while I did this. I don’t remember if my dad was there—though I think he might have been—or I did this while I was alone. I did it, though, because I admired him. (And because I loved shaving cream.)

Posted in Dad

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