Have you ever held something totally useless and completely worn out as one of your most prized possessions? The jacket I wear on my early morning walks fits that description exactly! If you passed me while you’re driving, you might just be tempted to open your vehicle window, toss out a $50 bill and yell, “Buy a coat!”. However, this jacket though ragged and wearing a couple holes is more valuable to me than the one I wear to church. You see...it has a history behind it...and it holds many memories.
My husband, Glen, died a year ago and he’d inherited this piece of wearing apparel from his great grandfather. And while it was treasured by Glen, he would only put it on when he needed a hug from his Grandpa Alfred.
The story told to me was that Glen and his wife, Heidi noticed the rather old jacket that Grandpa Al always wore. The jacket at that time held an occasional patch (one owning a place of prominence at the elbow and another near the right side pocket) and more than a few stitches. To replace this old relic, Glen decided to purchase a new, heavy duty jacket for his beloved Grandfather. Thus he and Heidi saved their money, purchased the jacket, wrapped it as a gift...and presented it to Grandpa Al.
The elder man was surprised when the present was given to him. Times back then were hard and it was unusual to receive such a thing when it was neither one’s birthday nor Christmas.
All three of those present were full of anticipation as the smiling senior carefully unwrapped his prize.
However the only ones left smiling when the box was opened were Glen and Heidi.
“This is really nice,” Gramps told the twosome. “I’ll just save it for good.”
“NO!” Glen sought to explain. “We want to take that old rag you’re wearing and burn it. We want you to wear your new jacket for every day.”
“Burn it? My jacket?” Grandpa Al asked in a tearful voice. “You can’t do that. It belonged to my dad.
He was killed when I was just a youngster. I cried many a tear after that...and when I held his jacket...or even slept with it because it still had his smell...it was like dad was back.
“As soon as I got big enough to wear it...it was like he was giving me a hug. That’s why I’ve always worn it...especially when I did the chores. That’s when dad wore it.”
Now, to further explain the story of the ragged jacket that I now wear on my cold, daily walk... because
Grandpa Al and Glen always had a special bond; and because that was what Glen chose when his grandfather died...as a remembrance of the old man...my husband would often put it on. “Just like Gramps said,” Glen would inform those present...”when he died I shed many tears. And when I put it on...it’s like getting a hug from him. Why it still has his smell...”
And today that’s the reason I wear a disreputable looking old jacket when I go for my walk. While I’m sure many people wouldn’t be seen dead in this historical, old family heirloom...I like to put on both my
ankle and arm weights and the jacket I have now inherited from my hubby as I go on my daily trek.
After all it still has Glen’s smell about it...AND when I put it on it’s like getting a hug from him as he says,
“Going for your five-miler, huh?”
And I answer him just like I used to. “Yes, see you in a little while.” And one day, those words, will come true...one last time.