The Clown Wig
THE CLOWN WIG
The Clown Wig. When I was in high school, my father used to wear this goofy multi-colored clown wig. Back then, I was mortified when he would wear it around me, especially in public, and ever more so when my friends were around. I never imagined that this silly clown wig would teach me so many life lessons. Since my father’s passing in 1994, this clown wig has unexpectedly become special and significant. These are the lessons I know my father would want me to have. Although he is no longer physically with me, his life lessons live on. I keep a photo of him wearing this clown wig in my wallet as reminder to live by these lessons in order to help me to have my most fulfilling life, and to pass these lessons on to my children.
- Self-Care. My father wore this wig during times when he was taking care of himself. He received much attention and many laughs when he wore it during the crowded 80s ski weekends. But he also wore it when he skied in solitude on the empty trails at Jack Frost on Wednesdays. He took every winter Wednesday off and headed to the mountains to ski, regardless of the weather. He had an emotionally draining job as a psychiatrist, and he needed this time to refuel and feed his soul. He always took care of his family and his patients, but he also made self-care a priority. The mountains provided this for him, and his goofy clown wig accompanied him. He told me before he died that he felt most at peace when he was on a chairlift, breathing in the cool mountain air. Two weeks later after he told me this, he had a sudden heart attack on a chairlift. Although he was not wearing the clown wig when he passed away on that chairlift, my family was comforted knowing that this is where he felt most at peace.
- Be goofy. I learned through my father wearing this silly clown wig not to take life too seriously. Not to take myself too seriously. My father was the goofiest person I have ever known, and it is this characteristic that my family misses dearly. He was known for his goofiness and putting others at ease. He didn’t need a clown wig to make you feel comfortable, important, and loved. However, the clown wig was an extension of his personality that was just so fitting, and you could not help but smile around him.
- Do not care what others think. I’m still working on this one, but each day, I get a little closer to living my life this way. To me, not caring about what others think is true freedom. When my father wore the wig, he did not care about being judged. In fact, when he wore it, it was almost as if he were professing this. I think you get to an age where you learn that other people’s opinion of you really does not matter, as long as you are not hurting anyone. My father certainly reached that point, and each day I am getting closer. I keep the photo in my wallet to remind me to get to that point sooner!
- My teenagers will survive my embarrassing behavior. When I was a teenager, I waited on long lift lines at Big Boulder ski area with my ski friends hundreds of times, and my father was either on line in front of me, or behind me. The lift lines were so long back in the 80s. Hardly anyone was on the slope, because everyone was on the lift line! So several times I day, I had to pretend that I did not know the crazy man wearing the clown wig! However, that was unsuccessful, because everyone knew my dad, and they knew I was his daughter. I was so embarrassed by that wig! And he would sometimes wear it while he was jogging around my high school track on his Wednesdays off, during the school day! Despite my embarrassment, I survived. I don’t think that I do anything quite as embarrassing for my children. So I know that they too will survive whatever silly, embarrassing behavior I engage in. Funny thing is, this very “embarrassing” behavior is what others still remember about my father, 22 years after his passing. Yet it is not with sympathy for me that I had a father whose behavior embarrassed me, but rather with fondness and endearment.
- Enjoy life. In addition to being goofy, the clown wig reminds me to slow down a bit and enjoy life. To make the most out of every moment, whether I am standing on line at the grocery store, or carrying out mundane tasks such as doing the dishes or doing the laundry. Wearing the clown wig is one way that my father made the most out of life. Although with his winning personality he did not need any help, the clown wig often instigated smiles from others and resulted in conversations with strangers.
- Life has beautiful twists and turns. I never imagined that this clown wig would be what made me realize that my husband and my father met, long before I met my husband. After my fiancé died, my mother’s and father’s presence and comforting conversations were a huge comfort to me. My father helped me to process my grief, and he also tried desperately to convince me that one day, when I was ready, I would find love again. I was saddened that my father was not alive to witness when this did indeed happen, and that he was not alive to walk me down the aisle when I got married. However, I was so comforted to learn that my husband had the opportunity to meet and know my father before he passed away. When my husband and I first started dating, he noticed that the clown wig was in the dining room of my childhood home. He asked about it, and I informed him that this was the crazy clown wig that my father would wear on Wednesdays while skiing at Jack Frost, and on weekends at Big Boulder. While Jack Frost and Big Boulder are “sister” mountains, I did not know my husband back then because I was at Big Boulder on weekends, while my husband was at Jack Frost. During that time, my husband was a ski instructor at Jack Frost, and he was also there on Wednesdays. So like other regulars, he spoke to the man in the clown wig and shared pleasantries and laughs. My husband did not know that the clown wig skier had a daughter, and he never imagined that years later, he would be marrying her. I am so grateful that because of this silly wig, I know with certainty that my husband and late father spoke to each other. If not for this wig, they may have never conversed with each other, and if they by chance had, I would not have any definitive way of knowing. Looking at the clown wig, I am amazed at its powerful emotional significance, as well as how life has beautiful twists and turns that we simply cannot understand or predict.
Thank you, silly, goofy, profound, exquisite clown wig. Thank you, Dad.