Choosing a Father’s Day gift for Daddy was always difficult. The hardest was summer of 1975, the summer doctors discovered Daddy, a life long smoker, had throat cancer and removed his larynx. This could be the last Father’s Day gift my dad received on earth. The gift needed to be special.
There are issues associated with voice box removal (other than the inability to speak). The main one is the hole it leaves in your neck. Simple things like showers can become threatening. So, I chose the hottest gift item of 1975 – the Shower Massage by Teledyne Water Pik. Daddy could not only adjust the spray, but also move the shower head below his neck because of the attached hose.
Daddy loved it immediately. If he was shocked it wasn’t another set of cuff links that would sit unused in his jewelry case, he didn’t say so. I was the shocked one when Daddy asked if I could install it for him. While Daddy thought women – or at least me – should be able to do anything in every aspect of life including the workplace, because he spent his youth on a farm he had clear thoughts about things that women shouldn’t have to do – things like home and car repairs, mowing the lawn, and taking out trash.
Never having handled so much as a screw driver, it seemed challenging. But I simple opened the package and following the directions was simple. Daddy seemed as proud of my installation efforts as his new shower device.
Daddy died the following September. The Water Pik Shower Massage stands as a signal-of-adulthood experience in my father’s eyes for me.
“This is Daddy’s Father’s Day gift,” I told Mom on Father’s Day as I picked her up to go the The Arkansas Repertory Theatre to see The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged). What could be a better gift for Daddy, who died in 1975, than a special outing for the love of his life?
Monday, mother calls. Her tone is slightly heightened from daily blase.
“I just got a call from ‘Ewbank, Gene,’” she says. “And it’s my number!” Mom hadn’t dialed herself; she was home alone!
Must have been Daddy calling to say thanks for the Father’s Day gift!
A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.