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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dad's jacket

axeman.jpg This jacket in this picture has nothing to do with this story.

It was the middle of winter, and very cold, with snow on the ground. I was in kindergarten and being sent home because I was sick. The school must have called the house, and getting no answer, called my dad at work. (I'm guessing at that part, but the rest is pretty accurate. And, I may have been in first grade.) My mom, who didn't work in those days, was away with my brother who was in the hospital getting his tonsils removed.

So, I guess he came home early from work and got me from school. I wish I could tell you that stepping into the role of caregiver was second nature to him. It was not. I don't want to make him sound helpless. He was not. If a job needed done that no one else could figure out, he was the one to call, and many people did. But, yet, he was more used to be cared for than caring for - especially in the children department. He was a complex person.

Despite being in the middle of a situation that was way out of his league, he somehow managed to figure out how to call my mom at the hospital. She told him to take me to the doctor, who the doctor was, and where he was located. And, of course, he would be doing this on his own without any other adult assistance.

The real problem arose when he couldn't figure out how to get me into my coat. I surely knew how to put on my own coat on by that age, but I must have been so sick I couldn't do it myself. So, instead of continuing to try what must have seemed impossible, he improvised. He spread his own jacket on the floor, rolled me up in it, and secured the whole thing by wrapping his belt around me and the jacket a couple times.

It was an Eddie Bauer down jacket (not the one in the picture), and as soon as we hit the outside air, it puffed up. It was so warm inside that jacket. And I remember feeling so safe and secure, and even though I was very sick, wishing that moment could last forever.

Who knows what the people at the doctor's office thought when they saw my dad carrying me in there like that, but we got right in, and I was diagnosed with measles.

My brother wore that jacket for about 10 years after my dad died. Maybe 15. Or maybe it was 20. Not sure, but it was a long time. It was a great jacket.

Posted by Marie at June 20, 2009 7:29 PM


Wonderful story, Marie. The idea of a dad who really cares, but can't quite figure out how to, hits close to home for me.

Posted by: Pete at June 21, 2009 6:07 AM

Lovely story, Marie. Your dad did fine.

My dad had a jacket from the time he was a teenager until he was in his late 30s or early 40s. He wore it all the time and it was in great condition when he handed it down to 15-16 year old me. It was a little big on me when I got it but I grew out of it in less than a year, wore the pockets out, and frayed all of the seams. Disappoints me to this day that it only took me a year to destroy something that lasted him 25-30 years.

Posted by: Rob Author Profile Page at June 21, 2009 12:12 PM

Thanks, Pete and Rob.

Rob, You mustn't knock yourself out. Clothes rarely last that long. You did get some wear out of it, and that's a good thing.

Posted by: Marie at June 21, 2009 6:11 PM

Great story, my dad was the same way. Some of us still tease him once in a while about the time he burned soup...hahahaha. In fairness to Pops, he was trying to manage 4 kids at or under the age of 7 at the time, right after #5 arrived. The neighbor ladies helped of course, but there was a brief period there before Grandma arrived from Minneapolis. It was too much for any man of that era.

Posted by: Dave E. at June 22, 2009 11:28 PM

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