My parents are gone, but I still have their things. A plate, a chair, a matchbook, a sweater, an old cell phone. Something of them lives on in this stuff. Send a picture of an object and tell me what it does to you and how it makes you feel about your mom and dad, dead or alive. Then go clean up your room. Thank you
When I was growing up my father wore his college sweatshirt while he worked around the house. On weekends he painted and sawed, hammered and sanded. The over-washed fabric gave him ease of movement while he lifted couches and moved refrigerators on his back with canvas straps. It tolerated paint streaks and occasional burn holes from a lit cigarette that perpetually dangled from his mouth.
As a teenager, I often borrowed clothes from his closet -- dress shirts and neckties and football jerseys -- but his college sweatshirt was off limits. It held his twentysomething swagger, and his Marlboro mojo. When I was thirty-five, my parents divorced after thirty-six years of marriage. Afterwards, my mother handed me a bag with the sweatshirt inside. It held too many memories for both of them, but she thought I would want it.
I store the shirt in the bottom drawer of my bedroom dresser. I don’t dare wear the thing, but I keep it — to remind me of when I was small and my Daddy carried me on his shoulders or sent me down to the basement to retrieve a Philips-head screwdriver from his own father’s tool box.
The sight of this old shirt — a talisman of his efforts to fix our broken things and to take care of my mother and me, as best he knew how — still makes me feel cared for and protected.