By a Hair

A couple of days after Dad died my step-mom, sister and I went to Foster and Peterings Funeral Home in Muskogee for visitation. For some reason I went into the chapel, first to see him laid out in the casket and suit we’d selected the day before.

It felt strange and I knew what to expect. However, still unable to fully grasp Dad was gone, I stood there looking, waiting to see some sort of sign of life.


Then as ashamed as I am to admit it, I reached over and gently rapped three times on his forehead. I recognized the hollow sound of a non-functioning brain and felt the chill of his icy skin.

He was dead and I had to accept it.

Then I noticed something that I had seen often as a child; the hair. It was a single, short strand that protruded from the bulb of the old man’s snout.

The funeral home technician’s had left it there, though they has applied a touch too much pink wax to his lips. I bent down and looked closer at the hair, contemplating whether to pull it or not.

That’s when I recalled a long ago memory of the day I first saw it plucked. Deirdre, who was about four-years-old, was sitting on his lap as he read the evening paper.

“Do you know,” she began, “you have a hair sticking out of the top of your nose?”

It was quite lengthy at the time, having not been trimmed in some time. Dad crossed his eyes to look at her finger as she flicked it back and forth.

“Yes I do,” he answered, “but leave it…”

Too late, Deirdre pinched it between her thumb and forefinger and yanked. Dad hollered in pain as he quickly put her off his lap.

He got up rubbing his nose and disappeared down the hallway. The closing of the bathroom door and sound of the lock clicking into place, soon followed.

There was an odd silence for a few second, followed by the laughter of myself and Mom, and Deirdre’s question, “What?”

It was at that moment, with this memory fresh in my mind, I decided not to pull the hair from the top of his nose.

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