“Old Red Sweatshirt”

It has been too long since I took my daughter on her pre-college visits. At one West Coast university, I purchased a sweatshirt, as a remembrance of our trip. There’s nothing fancy about it. It’s the basic model: pull it on over your head, slip your hands into the small pouch on the front and pull up the hood. Of course the name of the school emblazoned in large letters across the front…Mine is red custom king and queen sweatshirts.

Over the years that sweatshirt has been my “go to” garment. My first choice. Preferred attire.. I try to wear it anytime I can, to any and all events. I think it’s my adult “blankie.” It got old and ratty. I took up mending. I rejected replacement offers. My family finally caught on: I am never going to part with it. We decided that, in the end, it will be cremated along with this old bag of bones.

I finally realized that I am equating my sweatshirt with my father’s ever present Blue Suit. He wore it to all important family events: church, weddings, funerals. Ultimately it is what he chose to be buried in. When I saw him in that suit for the last time, I remember thinking that somehow its fabric contained the memories of so many of his life’s significant events. They were all there, in that garment, ready to be extracted through some magic-like breakthrough in quantum physics.

Like my dad’s suit, my old red sweatshirt has been imprinted with some of my significant personal memories. Maybe that’s why I want to have it with me at the end. Until then, I can hold it, smell it and review all of the memories that are stored up in its fabric. No amount of washing can remove those. No amount of illness or disability can take them away.