When I was a little kid, a father was like the light in the refrigerator. Every house had one, but no one really knew what either of them did once the door was shut.
My dad left the house every morning and always seemed glad to see everyone again at night. He opened the jar of pickles (腌菜) when no one else at home could. He was the only one in the house who wasn't afraid to go into the basement (地下室) by himself.
He cut himself shaving (剃胡须), but no one kissed it or got excited about it. It was understood that whenever it rained, he got the car and brought it around to the door. When anyone was sick, he went out to get the prescription (处方,药方) filled.
He kept busy enough. He set mousetraps (捕鼠夹). He cut back roses so the thorns (刺,棘刺) wouldn't snag (使钩破,是戳破) you when you came to the front door. He oiled1 my roller skates (旱冰鞋), and they went faster. When I got my bike, he ran alongside me for at least a thousand miles until I got the hang of it.
Whenever I played house3, the mother doll had a lot to do. I never knew what to do with the daddy doll, so I had him say, "I'm going off4 to work now," and threw him under the bed.
When I was nine years old, my father didn't get up one morning and go to work. He went to the hospital and died the next day.
There were a lot of people in the house who brought all kinds of good food. We had never had so much company (客人) before. He never did anything. I did not know his leaving would hurt so much.