Father/Daughter Stories, Father's Izod Sweater
Today is one of those sweater days. You know, the kind where you pull out your favorite worn sweater that gives you warmth and comfort. With warm colors and the soft weave, you slip your arms into the sleeve and feel the glow of a hug. Funny how we attached ourselves to favorites articles of clothing, favorite shoes, socks, old blue jeans. We simply tend to seek comfort in many material forms. Here is another one of those Father/Daughter stories.
I remember my father and his favorite sweater. It was light tan, not too thick, not too thin. Just like in the fairy tales, it was just right! When he would wear out the sweater, he replaced it with another one….just like the first one. On my father’s days home from work, you would almost always find him in this sweater. Sunday afternoons, watching basketball, stoking a pipe while his sweater soaks up the vanilla smell of the tobacco. He may sit at the kitchen table, late Saturday night with Bible spread open and red pen in hand, the sweater caressingly cloaking his torso.
One season he replaced it with a new sweater and he was thrilled to be an owner of a new light tan sweater like the old one, except the sweater now bared the Izod alligator above the left breast. It was this sweater’s tenure, during my teenage years to becoming a parent, that I then realize how attached he was to his tan sweater.
Upon my father’s death, I had the duty of gathering some of his pictures and various items to display at the funeral home. He lived in a modest trailer in the lake area of Kentucky. I reached my father’s home late at night and very much alone. As I strolled through the screen porch to retrieve the hidden key, I wondered how I would find this place without him there…or would he be a spirit in the corner with last words to say? I opened the door and stepped into the kitchen. There hung over the kitchen chair, was my Dad’s sweater.
I slipped the sweater on.
Grant it the tan sweater was way too big, but it felt so good. I could smell my Dad’s aftershave, maybe a hint of the oranges he loved so much. With the sweater fully donned, I hugged myself and it felt like a hug from my father. I took great comfort in the sweater. A smile floated across my face and I knew my father was still with us in spirit.
For the next several days I wore the sweater off and on. Even during the visitation and the actual funeral, I was dressed in that light tan sweater with the green alligator. I may have looked a bit out of place for such an occasion, however, I did not mind for the comfort of the sweater outweighed by far any embarrassment from breaking of some cultural fashion law.
I kept this sweater. I find myself wearing it when I am feeling lonely or simply miss my Daddy. Unlike my father though, I can not replace this sweater with a new one for the new sweater will not have the essence of my father woven in its threads.
The human spirit will always seek out comfort among material things, such as sweaters. We are essentially of the spiritual world and not of the material world though we live in one. As humans we tend to attach ourselves to material things not only for the temporary joy or comfort it may lend us, but also because of memories that material items may spawn. Those memories become the walking bridge between the spiritual and material worlds.
With a cup of tea, and a light tan sweater to curl up in, I think I will let some memories come forth and enjoy! Today is a good sweater day and remembering another one of those Father/Daughter stories.