Monday, January 25, 2010

Father's Day, a few months late

On Father's Day last year I had a nice little experience. On Sundays, KBYU-FM airs recordings of Leslie Norris reading his prose or poetry. Mr. Norris was a poet and teacher from Wales who taught at BYU from the 1980s until 2004 or so. He was also the Poet-in-Residence at BYU for several years. I'm not especially familiar with his work, but it's always a pleasure to catch a snippet of one of his readings on the radio. This particular Sunday I turned on the radio as I was driving home from church. One of Mr. Norris's readings was on and it quickly caught my attention because I recognized the work being read.

In 10th grade English class we read a short story called "Shaving." Some of you probably read it in school as well--I think it's often used in high school English books. The story really struck me at the time, though, and I never forgot it. The plot, in brief, involves a teenage boy who, after coming home victorious from a rugby match, takes a moment to shave his ailing, bedridden father. The prose was simple and beautiful, and the tender yet melancholy nature of the tale made a lasting impression on my young mind. It was only months after this experience that my own father was diagnosed with cancer, and I often reflected on this story throughout his illness and for years after his death. I could never remember who the author was, and although I probably could have found out easily enough, I never thought to look it up.

As you've probably deduced by now, the story being read on the radio was the one I remembered from high school. I was so glad to hear this story again and to finally find out the author. As I listened to the story on that Father's Day, when my mind was already turned to my dad, I felt again my gratitude for such a wonderful father, my sorrow at his death, and my joy in knowing I will see him again. It was the best kind of experience I could have wished for on that day and I've been meaning to share it ever since. With the 9th anniversary of my dad's death on January 19th, I figured it was as good a time as any. To my dad, because I'm sure you have access to this blog wherever you are, I miss you and I love you.

Download a PDF of the story here.