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Turning Over New Leaf

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My Father Knew How to Shave

shave

As an adult, I often find routine dull, especially those mundane ceremonies Earthlings perform as they rise each morning.

As a child, however, I found myself fascinated by the precision with which my father would shave every day of his life, regardless of time constraints, weather, or pressing engagements. He taught me about shaving cream, razors, and safety blades. I marveled at the skill he demonstrated as he applied the shaving cream to his face like a sculptor, so as to appear to don a stark white beard. Then, with a surgeon’s touch, he carefully worked the razor blade, always starting in the same place, and ending with a smooth finish. Never once did he cut himself. I always do.

Yet, because dad throughout his life proved to be thorough and cautious, he showed me what a styptic stick looked like, although this five-year old had no real conception of its usefulness. Still, I remember focusing on everything he said, because it seemed so important to him.

My father knew how to shave. To me, it’s an obnoxious necessity. To dad, it represented what men did when they were men. I enjoyed much of my life bearded, just to avoid the process.

So vividly I recall acquiring knowledge about cars, while my father was shaving, but this writer would never attempt to change a spark plug. He told me of his experiences at war, but forgot to tell me he received medals for heroism. I learned that long after he departed. Instead, he spoke of the beauty of the French countryside, the magnificent Black Forest in Germany, and the value of freedom. My dad would have loved to ski the Austrian Alps, but he never did. I did. My kids grew up on skis, with me right behind.

When my father rinsed off his face each morning after his perfect shave, I pondered everything he ever told me in those early years, as I proudly handed him a towel. The man knew so much, and shared it with me. He had little formal education, but made it a point to offer me the option. I have a ton, but most of the lessons and values that have gotten me through life were absorbed in my earliest years, watching in awe as a man performed an ordinary task extraordinarily.

I find it quite ironic that while my father shared his life with me, he made sure I understood how important it was to be me. However, even now, when I peer into the bathroom mirror to shave each morning, I still wish I could see him.
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27 comments:

  1. I love watching a man shave... What a methodical process.. I like seeing the shaver taking the shaving cream away... reminded me of icing on a cake being smoothed and evened out...BTW I can picture my grandpa, Dad, and hubby shaving...

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  2. KBF: It makes one appreciate the little things we are currently experiencing. I love living tomorrow's memories.

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  3. This was such a beautiful tribute. Tears sprang to my eyes with the last sentence...

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  4. Susie: Thank you. We all have fond memories. They are a few of the things that make life living.

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  5. Love it when you share a good story with us. Especially one from your life, that carries such emotion. I can feel the admiration for your Dad coming through and it's a lovely thing.

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  6. I used to watch my Papaw shave with a straight razor. He tried to teach me but mom found out I got in trouble. For years after his passing, Papaw's mug, brush,razor and tin of shaving powder sat in the medicine cabinet and no one ever dared to touch it.

    My own father used a double edged razor. He kept his in a small brown cellinoid case. When the razor was dull, there was a little slat in the back of the medicaine cabinet where my father would drop the blade. I wonder how many old double edge blades are in the walls of that old house.

    I still have his razor and case. I also learned real fast what a styptic stick was too.

    You were smart to listen to the stories your father told you. Evidently I didn't but my older sister did. Thank goodness, or I wouldn't know as much as I do now about my own family's history.~Ames

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  7. Hi JJ .. great post and I can see him shaving too - or all men, taking that care at the start of the day.

    I'd have loved to have had more guidance and knowledge from my father - he was awesome in his knowledge .. but sharing it wasn't easy for him - and thus I enjoy learning from others now that he has gone.

    There are fond memories though .. delighted you revelled in yours and your Dad made it so.

    Cheers - Hilary

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  8. Beautiful and touching text JJ. Thank you.

    I confess I hate shaving, although I do it every morning (with more modern tools).

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  9. Thank you for letting me know about the change in your blog... that was exceedingly kind of you. I plan to come regularly and check out what you are doing/reading/writing. Great look, too!

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  10. Kagemusha: Thank you. I will also be following your site more closely. It is very interesting.

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  11. FanaticoUm: Thank you for the kind words. Indeed, we do what we must.

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  12. Jasmine: I appreciate that very much.

    Ames: It is fascinating how much we recall about the little things from out childhood. Hold on the that razor. It must be special.

    Hilary: I do understand. My father was not a very touchy feely type guy, but he did take the time to steer me in the right direction, usually by example.

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  13. Hahaha! Rod feels the same way, JJ! He hates it, but he does it--every day! When the children were little, they always wanted to shave as well, so he would put a little shaving cream on their faces and give them a spoon to shave with. They loved it!!

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  14. Beautiful post, JJ. A parent's gift of letting a child by his or herself is one of the best gifts a parent can give. And I'm sure, if you could look back at you from that mirror, he'd be incredibly proud of the thoughtful man you are.

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  15. I lost my father when I was in my teens. He was a professional pianist. He made playing the piano look so easy. His fingers would fly across the keys and back again with amazing speed and not miss a note...ever. So beautiful.
    Still, every time I hear anyone play the piano I wish it was my dad that I was listening to.
    Like your shaving and my music,those things will always bring them back to us I suppose.
    How wonderful, that we have those memories at least.
    Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

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  16. Phoenix: Thank you. It is much appreciated.

    Miriam: I agree. Memories are gifts, and we should continually offer gifts to our children as well.

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  17. Fantastic Tribute. Fantastic Writing. The influence of Mr. Hemingway is apparent here.

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  18. #167 Dad: I could not receive a nicer compliment. Thank you.

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  19. Very nice posting and tribute to your dad and Happy you entered it into the Deja Vu blogfest Enjoyed reading!

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    1. Gossip_Grl: Thank you. He was a great guy and what fathers should be.

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  20. How wonderful it is to have this morning ritual memory! The careful shaving and the stories, combined into one experience. I can picture it vividly.

    Nice to meet you in the blog fest!

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    1. Dianne: Thank you. It is a wonderful memory. Nice to meet you as well.

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  21. What a touching tale. Thank you so much for re-running it.

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    1. Susan: Thank you. It is a nice memory to share.

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  22. My dad still shaves the real way, soap, brush, razor. I love that, for some reason. This was a wonderful tribute to your dad.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

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  23. Shannon: Thank you. I think it sonehow makes people individuals. Enjoy it.

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