“Ah, the simple pleasures of life!”

One of the many joy of life is our sense of smell.  Another is a hot morning shower & shave.  This morning was such a delight as the ground is snow covered white with slight flakes still falling, nice and cold, just right for sleeping in (just a little) and then that morning ritual.  This morning’s tough decisions for that shower was whether to use the recently purchased (both on sale) either the “White Peach & Shea Butter” body wash or the “Cherry Seed Oil & Mint” version.  Putting this into perspective, I love anything with the promise of cherry in it, especially if its eatable, but at the same time, the creamy white peach has a lasting moisturizing base that stays after showering off the creamy soap bubbles.  Ah, life is full of such tough and wonderful choices each day.

I recall my teen days at home with my father taking delight in such everyday seemingly simple things, making life an adventure whether it was his rock collections or things to eat from the garden.  This particular Saturday Summer morning I was bringing my 16 year old girlfriend to the house for the first time.  As we came in the side door that led up several steps past the hanging coats you would open the door to a tiny short kitchen hallway.  I let her go first due to the tight fit as that inner door would be opened.  At that same moment, dad came through that door opening area, clad only in kachi shorts – no shirt, no shoes, just those shorts.  Now dad was a very easy going and open friendly kind of guy, the kind that says hello to everyone and would carry on a conversation with strangers at the drop of a hat.  To him, everyone was a friend, most of whom he just hadn’t met yet.  So you get the scene, sweet-16 girlfriend meeting dad for the first time face to face in this hallway at the open door, me on the steps slightly below and behind the developing scene, hoping to make a good impression with this “first visit” to the family home in little suburban Metuchen, NJ.  Dad speaks first in greeting the young stranger looking up into that hall at him and he says (and these are his exact words, still clear in my mind now over 50 years later), “Smell me!”

“Smell me?” What’s with that?  She takes it in stride, responding with some words I’m sure, but those I do not remember.  Dad had just come down from a late morning bath and had discovered one of my sisters’ scented bubble bath soaps. Dad delighted in scents, especially foods or in this case , a special soap.  Obviously he was enjoying the experience and had nobody yet to share it with as he came downstairs fresh from that bath, and she was the first encounter to share it with in his usual enthusiasm.  God bless her, she took it in stride and not only didn’t hold it against me, but grew to love that very special dad (as I tear up in writing this memory of him…) just as I did.  Maybe not so much in that particular moment, but overall I always did respect and love him, a love and admiration that grew over the years and continues many years after his passing in 1969.

So, for those of you who know me, if you were to ask how I came to be the man I am today, at least the better part of me I can attribute to that loving father who was always there with and for me (and my friends).  That is not to minimize my wonderful and strong mother’s influence, and between them, you have what you see in me today.  A grown man, going on 69 years of a life I can truly say has always been one full of adventure and blessed joy, taking a simple morning shower ritual to a higher level, and yes, choosing that “White Peach & Shea Butter” bath soap over the cherry one this particular cold white snowy morning, drinking in the fragrance, feeling the smoothness, as a very hot shower spray wakes up this body for another day of scent filled adventure.

I do pray that you too will take the time in your own busy day to “smell the roses” or maybe go out and buy at your local corner Rite Aid drug store some DIAL “Cherry Pit Oil & Mint” bath soap, and then come back and even if its afternoon by then, take a shower with it.  Then you too can greet someone with those surprising words from dad’s story: “Smell me!”

PS: Dad died of congestive heart failure at a much too young an age, 50.  Today, as evidenced by my own life saving heart transplant at that same age, suffering with that same heart condition, we have the miracle of transplantation to extend life.  As mom so wisely said in reply when someone asked her as I was waiting in the hospital for that new heart, “How can you deal with your oldest son lying here with a failing heart?”  She responded, “You forget, I’ve been through this before, but back in 1969 there were no alternatives.  Now there is.”

Take away life lessons . . .

First, make a decision about being an organ donor, tell your family about that decision and register that decision on your driver’s license.  You’ll never know how many lives you might save when you no longer need them.

Second, look for and enjoy those everyday simple joys of life.  They are there for all of us every day, no matter what stage of life you may be in.  You only have to be open to those daily blessings, or as I say, those “free cookies” in life that we “Cookie Monsters” find and celebrate in story telling as I’ve just done here.

"My wonderful dad"