Today is Father’s Day, one of the first sunny days in a month of rain. But I am indoors, cleaning the kitchen, the way Dad would. I decided that would be the way to honor him this year.
My Dad had a lot of talents so kitchen clean-up might seem like a lame choice but Dad treated the task with the utmost respect and it’s about time I did too.
Ray Finlayson cleaned with the doggedness of a soldier, patrolling the borders of hidden dirt and secret smudges. He was never slap dash. Or dreary. He’d sing as he mopped up the gravy spills, the vegetable scraps and the meat gristle clinging to the cutting board. But that was just the opening salvo.
He’d dispatch the surviving dinner detritus back to the refrigerator and load the dishwasher to its groaning fullest, determined to cram in every last fork, sometimes shattering goblets and dooming us to stuck-on egg. But he was incorrigible on the mechanics. “That’s what they’re made for,” he’d intone, “Just thrun it all in!”—a nod to his Scottish roots, or his invented Daddy language. He’d push every high-speed, extra-rinse button to get his money’s worth.
Dad didn’t stint. He’d polish the tops of the salt and pepper shakers and the knobs of the cabinet doors, as he wielded his squirt bottle of whatever was handy. He never believed that there was a difference between Windex and stovetop cleaner, and dismissed my protests with “Ah, that’s just a marketing gimmick.” His final flourish was to shine the faucets and then fold the dishrag neatly over the spigot, with the grace of a sommelier. “Done!” he’d smile. “That’s how Daddy cleans the kitchen.”
I am my father’s daughter, but too often I forget the joy of shining the details or savoring the everyday. I race to the ‘big what’s next’. My father was a master of burnishing the now. He respected the wipe of a rag.
I want to do more than miss him on Father’s Day. I want to keep learning from the best teacher I ever had. The man who taught me how to take care of myself, even if I don’t clean up so well. I can learn, Daddy. I can learn.
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