My father very seldom went out except to do chores. Otherwise, it was only for funerals, maybe weddings, but I don't remember any, or things like going to the bank to sign something, and later, to very occasional CNIB events for the blind.
Dad was the ultimate in practical people. He lived in the real physical world around him. For instance, not being able to see the kitchen floor, he would wash it every time he finished doing the dishes. And he would wash the dishes immediately after supper, no matter how interesting the dinner table conversation.
And if he had to go out for some evening function, he would prepare for it the whole day, shaving and taking his shower early after lunch, feeling through his seldom-used good clothes hours before leaving, and starting to dress at least a couple hours early.
Then, if it was cold out, Dad, who was skinny and never produced enough body heat in the winter, would stand fully clothed in front of the door, blind, facing sideways, waiting, listening silently, without expression, to the usual commotion of us kids who always threw our clothes on at the very last minute in a panic. He would wait there seemingly at peace for more than half an hour, dressed in everything: his long-johns, shirt, tie, sweater, at least two pieces of a three-piece suit (which he was never ever seen in otherwise), a heavy overcoat, pull-over rubbers, gloves, and his 1928 tweed wool cap with earflaps which cost him, new, $1.39, and which I, now older than he was standing there at the door, still am proud to keep in my own cap drawer, and which I occasionally try to pull down over my larger head, or just hold up to my nose; the powerful smell of crankshaft oil and engine grease is still there, life-size.
It's finally time for me to learn from Dad. I still put off to the last minute getting ready to go out, and always put myself into a panic. I wait because I'm already anxious. I always am. Just about always have been. But I don't remember ever seeing that fear in Dad out on the farm. Maybe his practical existence in the world around him kept his fears at bay. While mine were so strong I was driven into my mind. Not a good place to be to confront reality. It will always have the upper hand. Lately I find myself close to panic over otherwise trivial situations.
So I've come up with something that might help. Just as Dad began getting ready early in the day, I am going to ask myself in advance of doing anything (if I can remember to) how to do it without increasing my anxiety. That way, I'll apply my mind to the practical problems of the day, in proper sequence, the one world helping me through the other, instead of acting as a refuge from it.
If I had not been so busy thinking when I was young, I would have already learned this from my father. The way nature expected me to. But it's never too late. Today is still the present.
7 Likes1 Comment
Robert Gregory Seaton, Larry Burfield, Yvonne Maggs and 4 others like this.
Martin Hayter Great story. I always get there for work a half or an hour early. No stress that way.
Like · Reply · 7 hrs
Stan Burfield Right. I'm finally getting the idea.