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Monday, August 7, 2017

I Remember Dad Taught Me How to Take a Bath

“Where do I start?” That's the quote that makes me remember the first time I took a bath on my own. I do not remember how old I was, but I imagine I was four or five or six. I think it was not uncommon, and possibly even routine for Dad to give me my bath—one evening each week in those days, I think. Honestly, however, I have no memory of baths before this one. He and Mom, I was told, had decided I was “a big enough boy now” to bathe myself. I know I knew before I got into the tub that night that I was to learn to bathe myself.

Dad ran about two or three inches of water into the tub, and I got in. You might think he put so little water in because he was concerned about his son's safety. No, that's how he took a bath. He grew up at a time when warm bathwater came off the stove, not from a faucet at the tub. Thus there was a lot of legwork in getting family members their weekly bath. He also used the bathroom sink the way he had been taught to use a wash basin into which water had to be poured from a pitchher. He put in the plug and added the minimal amount of water to wash his hands and face or to shave.

Anyway, there I sat, Dad kneeling on the floor beside the tub. He handed me a washrag (an item I abandoned within months or a few years), and a bar of wet soap. I knew to rub the soap onto the washrag, but what next? Feeling a bit ignorant for the “big boy” I was supposed to be, I had to ask, “Where do I start?” I think it is the small disappointment in myself for having to ask the question that brings this memory back to me. I remember Dad said something like, “Well it doesn't make much difference, but why don't you start from you feet and work toward your head; that's the way I do it.” That struck me as sensible advice from a wise man. I commenced to wash, Dad left the room. I was now a growing boy on his own.

(c) from date of posting, by Bob Komives, Fort Collins 

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