I’ve had a wound on my chin since my father died two-and-a-half years ago. I’ve had one in my heart, too, as to be expected, but the chin issue was perplexing.
The problem developed the day before Beau’s funeral when I went to a nail salon to get beautified before the service. But the story actually begins several months prior, when I ran into an old friend of my father’s, Dr. Mike Lusk, while visiting my dad in Naples. Dr. Lusk chastised me for having dirt under my fingernails. He’s a brain surgeon–a breed notoriously picky about personal hygiene. He’s a big joker, too.
Anyway, I was determined to have clean, polished nails for Beau’s service just in case Dr. Lusk inspected them. Sister Kathy and I found a cute salon and proceeded to get spiffed up. The woman who was doing my nails kept looking at my face.
Finally, she said, “Can I wax your chin?”
I said yes right away, thinking it would be one less thing for which Dr. Lusk could tease me. My nails would be clean and my face would be hairless. That’s a winning combo! I’ll look great for my eulogy. You have to find the humor in times like these.
The service was lovely. And I did see Dr. Lusk, who shook my hand and noticed the nice manicure. “Thank God,” he said. “Last time I saw you, it was like you had crawled out of the forest.”
I may, or may not, have jutted my chin out at him.
A month later, I felt an ingrown hair deep in my chin–no doubt from the waxing session which only happened because I needed to get a manicure to appease Dr. Lusk. I went to the dermatologist, who cut into the area and found nothing. I spent the next TWO-AND-A-HALF YEARS trying to get the damn hair out. As a result, I walked around with a big scab on my chin. And I know this is strange, but I sorta liked that scab. It connected me to my father’s death. To an event. To a place and time. So I kept digging at that Emperor’s New Hair.
Since arriving in Abu Dhabi one month ago, I’ve wondered what my father would think of my move here. What would he say to me? Gal, learn everything you can about the people and the place. Gal, God is Great. Allah Akbar. (Which is something he often said. He loved God in all forms. And I loved him beyond all measure.)
Every time I swim in the Arab Gulf, I think about my father teaching me to swim in a river in Alabama. He’d love these waters, too. They are so salty, so healing. I have passed our love of water down to my son, who splashes about looking for shells with me and jumping off the floating docks with reckless abandon.
In the shallow water on Friday, I reached for my chin to see how the ingrown hair was doing.
The wound is gone. The sensation of a hair is gone. My chin is healed.