Categories
Memoir Nonfiction

Where My Father Once Stood

The urine and fallen hair at the base of the toilet were reminders of where my dad once stood.

Before you read this, read:

When the Nightmares Began
Grief is a Fire, Smoldering
When Depression Comes to the Workplace

The urine had long dried at the base of the toilet. Embedded within the dried urine were tiny specs of hair about a quarter- to a half-inch long. Pine needles fallen at the base of a once mighty tree.

The urine and fallen hair were reminders of where my father once stood. His body was not sturdy as he stood here. His urine dribbled out and he would apologize to me.

“I’m sorry about pissing in your floor,” he said to me, frustrated. “I had a catheter in at the hospital…”

“It’s okay,” I told him. “I’ll clean it up.”

Nine months after he stayed at my apartment on Pantops, and eight months after he passed, I still hadn’t cleaned it up. I couldn’t bring myself to wipe away his urine and his hair.

In preparation for his treatment, he shaved his head and mustache. In all my life, I had never before seen my dad without a mustache. It was his trademark look. Wayne Pillow and Robert Hancock without mustaches would be the equivalent of seeing a cat without whiskers.

“Nobody ever told me my front teeth were so big,” he joked, after having shaved his upper lip.

The morning I tried to quit my job I sat in the floor of my bathroom and stared at the dried urine and hair at the base of the toilet until my eyes welled up with tears and my vision blurred.

I could smell it—the odor. There was a pungent stench to the urine. Ammonia mixed with cancer. You can smell someone with cancer. Their body and their waste takes on a different odor.

The urine had turned orange now in places. The hair was brown.

My dad once stood here, unsteady.

A tree soon to fall.

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By Jeffrey Pillow

Jeffrey Pillow is an American short story writer, memoirist, and poet. He is the author of The Lady Next Door. His writing has been published in Urge Magazine, The Nervous Breakdown, 16 Blocks, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, TheBody.com, New York Times, Washington Post, and Richmond Times-Dispatch.

He grew up in the small town of Phenix, Virginia, population: 200, and now lives in Charlottesville with his wife, two kids, and a dog named Mozzarella Cheese. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia where he was a Rainey Scholar. This is his blog.

6 replies on “Where My Father Once Stood”

My dad once stood here, unsteady.

A tree soon to fall.

…..

To echo Caryn that is poetic but heartwrenching at the same time.

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