Well Dressed

Dad helped me look great for years.

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Rick Hamlin and his father

I can remember Dad helping me get dressed for church as a little boy. Making sure I had the right shoe for the right foot, helping me buckle my belt, pulling up my socks, buttoning my shirt, brushing my hair—what little I had of it with my buzz cut. “All right skeesix,” he said, “you’re all ready.”

This time it was me helping Dad get dressed for my nephew’s wedding. Dad’s hands work slowly these days and I was glad to help. Buttoning the buttons on his suit pants, tucking in the belt, buttoning the cuffs on his starched white shirt, pulling up the socks, putting on the shoes.

His feet hurt from neuropathy so I had to go gently with the shoes. (Sorry if I pulled too much on the heels, Dad.) I remembered how he taught me, years ago, that though socks were good for both feet, shoes had a wrong and a right foot. He stood up when he had the shoes on, a pair of black shoes he hadn’t worn since the last family wedding. “Are they on the right feet?” I asked.

“I think so,” he said, testing them.  

The biggest challenge was the bow tie. Dad got it started, then I worked on it for a while. Not very successfully, I’m afraid. The final result was a group effort, with much credit to my sister’s ministrations. 

The roles can change fast in the parent/child relationship, faster than you would ever expect. Dad helped me look great for years. I was glad to have the chance to return the favor.

I’ll keep practicing with the bow tie.

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