Monday, June 17, 2013

The Parka In My Closet

I was cleaning out my closet recently, something that is always an adventure, because it is a mini attic where I stash things I can't use yet don't want to lose. Near the back, stuffed in a corner I found the parka.

Even now, beat up as it is, you can see the quality workmanship. A blue cloth exterior and sheepskin style lining.  It belonged to my dad, a gift from his best friend who also had one.

It was twenty years ago that I got one of those calls that no one wants to get.  This one was to tell me that my father had died, while on an out  of state visit to one of my sisters.  Though unexpected, it was also a blessing, diabetes had been deteriorating his health for years.

He was many things. For  37 years in Scouting, he excelled at getting people to work together. A bank teller,  a gas station attendant, a loading dock worker,  but also a self taught student of history; a lifelong fan of the Indians and the Browns who revered Bob Feller and Bill Veeck and Paul Brown. He loved movies, and once he acquired a VCR devoted much of his time to taping all his favorite TV shows and movies, all color coded with reviews from the TV guide attached to the box. He had done the same with his record collection, copying everything to cassettes. He had custom length tapes made, cause he hated long silences at the end.

 Dad and me attending the 1985 Boy Scout Jamboree

I remember thinking at the time that I was lucky, that I had no real regrets or unfinished business with my dad. I still feel that way,but do have regrets for my children, who never knew their grandfather, particularly my son who is so like him.  They would have had so much fun planning his camping trips, or dissecting his baseball games. He would have been especially proud when The Boy joined the staff at the local Scout camp, one of Dad's favorite places on earth.

The last time I saw my dad I took him a gift.   I had bought him a print of Cleveland Stadium for his birthday, which was in late May, but decided to take it that April day instead, with the baseball season starting.  He was delighted, and my mom told me later that he showed it off to everyone that came to the house for the next week or so.  It was one of the few times I have had a true premonition lead me in the right direction.



A year or so ago, I gave the print to my son, feeling it was more suited to his room (which already looks like a Cooperstown road show) than mine, and knowing he would appreciate it--a gift across the generations.

Another thing my mom gave me after his death was the parka. I wore it in the winter for years, till it literally was falling apart.  Then I put it up in my closet, where it had stayed till now.


Me in Dad's coat
 I sat there holding it a minute, thinking of my dad, and his friend, both gone now.  Then I folded it up and put it in the far back of the closet again.


There are things I'm not ready to let go of yet.



 
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32 comments:

  1. I can really relate to this. I have stuff of my mom's that I just can't part with, shoved in boxes in the basement. Sounds like you have some lovely memories of your dad.

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    1. I do indeed, as I said I wouldn't have regrets at all, except for the loss to my kids of not getting to know him.

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  2. there are some things you just shouldn't ever let go.

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  3. Im with icescreammama...some things you should hang on to for good.

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    1. Sometimes we need something tangible to hold onto.

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  4. What a beautiful post! There is something about the mementos we keep that strengthen our memories of loved ones we've lost. Your parka reminded me of my grandfather's peacoat. I don't wear it, but I can't bear to part with it.

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    1. I still have a bunch of the video and audio tapes he labeled, and some of his books, and some other keepsakes. But somehow the coat really brings him to mind.

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  5. You have so many beautiful memories attached to that parka. I would keep it too.

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    1. Thanks TriGirl. I plan to as long as I can.

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  6. Meg, this is a beautiful post, and a lovely tribute to your dad. Btw, that picture of the two of you is great!

    Karen

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    1. Thank you. We had both gotten new uniforms to go to the 75th anniversary jamboree. We went down to Virginia for the Jambo, went to Monticello also, then on the way back went to Gettysburg and Hershey. I was already in my 20's but it was the only long trip I ever took like that, just me and my parents.

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  7. A nice tribute to your father with such lovely details.

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    1. Thank you Cynk. The only problem I had was knowing when to stop.

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    1. Thanks Dorothyadele, I do hope he is.

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  9. I can relate to this, as my son never met my father, and my daughter has limited memories of him. Hang onto whatever reminds you of him! He sounds like he was a great dad.

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    1. When I watch movies, or do scouts, or go to my son's ballgames, there's than connection from what I do with them to what he did with me, and that helps. He was a great dad.

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  10. And there are some things you will never be ready to surrender. Don't. Those are the things that SHOULD be kept forever.

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    1. Thanks Jester. I think so too.

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  11. What a beautiful post! I'd keep the parka as well.

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  12. This is beautiful. I'd hold on to that parks with both hands and my heart if i were you!

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    1. Thanks Robbie, that's what I thought too.

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  13. What a wonderful tribute to your dad. I think you did the right thing. :)

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  14. I think this is a very sweet post. It's amazing how inanimate objects can capture so much of our lives inside them.

    Also, I'm a Clevelander! Hugs to you, and if you are still in the area, I hope you're enjoying the beautiful weather :)

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    1. Thank you Esther. I have so many things that remind me of someone or something. I wouldn't miss the objects if I lost them, but I would miss them memories they bring to mind when I look at them or hold them.

      I am still in the area, Akron to be precise. I enjoy the weather anytime I don't have to go to work and deal with the citizens enjoying the weather,

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  15. Amazing how much a person can get wrapped up in something like a parka. Wonderful memories!

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    1. Thanks Kirsten. It is amazing what these objects can come to mean to us,

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