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Shaving Like Crazy
By Darcy Lee Malone

(Page 1 of 4)

My dad is sitting in his easy chair. Next to him is the end table that holds a lamp, his clicker, his razor (because he likes to shave while he watches TV, feeling for the razor’s accuracy rather than looking for it in a mirror) and, even now, his pack of cigarettes, his lighter and his ashtray.

The cancer has moved to his brain. We know it. We don’t need an MRI to tell us that the cancer cells have done just what we have been praying they wouldn’t: they have traveled from his lung, unwanted passengers in his bloodstream, staking claim to his brain and multiplying in an effort to dominate and destroy. And if the golden hue of his usually pale Irish skin is any indicator, his liver is now riddled with more malignant tumors.

We are in my father’s living room, just thirteen months since his cancer diagnosis and three months since his 61st birthday. Tom Brokaw’s voice is coming out of the television at a decibel level that ensures the neighbors will be able to hold a decent conversation about current events, whether they want to or not. I am sitting on the sofa, my younger sister Kathleen is sitting beside me; the weariness of our day is etched on her face, her grief revealed through the transparent mask of normalcy we are all trying to wear. Jeanie, our stepmother and my father’s soul mate, is in the spare room, probably on the computer and probably crying. We all do a lot of that these days. But not in front of Dad. Whenever we do slip up and let a tear fall for him to see he says, “Jesus Christ. I’m not dead yet, you know.” His sense of humor has always been a little quirky.

“Dad, can you turn it down a little?” I ask, shouting in my effort to be heard over the news.

My dad looks at me as though I just asked him to strip naked in front of us. “You think it’s too loud?” he questions me with a definite degree of disdain. “Dad, I’m pretty sure the neighbors can hear the TV as well as we can.” “I don’t care about the neighbors.” And he really doesn’t, but he grabs the clicker and makes a pretense of clicking the volume button. 

I look around the room. Everything is the same as it has been for the past few years, ever since Dad and Jeanie finally got married and Dad moved his stuff into the condo. He really didn’t have much in the way of furniture, even after fifteen years of being divorced from my mother and raising three kids on his own.

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