Monday, December 3, 2012

I dress every morning in my dead dad's sweater.

After dad died, mom asked every offspring, and there are seven of us, to take anything of our father's. Her heart was in pieces and this made the parting with his things a tiny bit easier.

 I shook my head at the shelf of birthday and holiday gifts given by me that were never worn. All those Dad gifts left neatly folded and unused. He was always the hardest to buy for since he never expressed a need for much in this mortal life. Any material needs appeared as weaknesses in his manly world. There were scarves, gloves, sweater vests, slippers, socks, blah, blah, blah most with tags still in place. 

     I took a grey cotton, zippered, cabled cardigan. I had often seen him wear this comfy looking sweater. His casual home uniform sans tie was a plaid shirt, yellow sweater vest and this grey sweater that made his quickly disappearing, silver hair shine.  I wear this totem every morning and every night especially those evenings you get into pajamas extra early to just declare: "day is over, i"m doin' nothin' the rest of this day". It fits me perfectly.

     My dad was an ex-marine bird colonel, always physically fit, walking every day after the earliest mass, especially after his coronary incident. He was an exceedingly disciplined man. He drank no stimulants: coffee, tea, alcohol, or sugary soft drinks. He never ate between meals. He loved hot chocolate and ice cream, which became sherbet post-coronary bypass.  He wore a medium but really a 'small' fit his frame better, especially as the average guy got larger with our fast food culture. He sired several children over six feet including one daughter. None of us wore anything small. But the move from men sizes to my womanly frame made this sweater fit just right.

     I hope some of his discipline will ooze into me via cardigan osmosis. But other than immediately going thru an old yoga routine every morning, I have little of his 24/7 vigilance and overdrive ambition. He retired from two jobs, had three very different careers (family mortician, career military, finally business professor). Dad fought in two wars, published one book and had 7 children and one wife. He never watched TV, but for Notre Dame football. Instead, he worked hard on articles for his various military alumni units. He had received his PhD at night while teaching at various war colleges throughout the east coast and was often stationed at the Pentagon. Dad was always studying something.  If we could only live our lives his way, we would have been better people. We were all college educated at much personal sacrifice. Education was THE one true thing; " communists can't take that away from you. If it 's in your head, it will stay," he would chant.
     Much useful and useless knowledge is dementedly stuck in my head, but maybe with his silver sweater wrapped around me, Dad's remembered steadfastness will help me greet the day with a starving dog's appetite for meat and end it with a satisfied mothers' sigh for her perfectly peaceful sleeping child. It is said that clothes make the man, perhaps his sweater will help his still dutiful daughter.

Carole for PGM


  1. What a touching tribute to a fascinating man! The things our fathers give to us and leave with us when they go! Thanks for this moving piece, Carole. BLR

  2. Thanks Carole. I loved this. Beautifully done.