Sunday, June 18, 2017

My father's balled socks, and other things I miss

It's funny the things you remember about your dad once he is gone. 
He had this sock drawer. In it, his socks were balled together like little fruits, different colors, so alien to my own socks, all white, which got folded in half in long flat lines by my mother. 
He did a lot of domestic chores differently than she, who was eight years his junior. "I was balling socks when you were still in diapers," he would say, or "I was already making beds when you were..." 

He had hankies in the drawer too, those red patterned ones like cowboys wore, or white for when he might need to blow his nose in church. Hankies were from a time when men wore hats. Gone, like my dad. 
Hankies and hats seem like vestiges from another era, when the planet was still cooling, maybe, and men had a lot more head colds. These days, aside from hipsters, the only hats men wear are ball caps, as if we are all inexplicably, as a gender, off-season outfielders. 

My dad never wore a ball cap in his life, but he did have a "rain hat," an old brown Indiana Jones style fedora he wore doing outdoor work in bad weather. It looked like rats had made an appetizer of the brim, then realized they could do better. 
In the summer he would wear his "fun hat," one of those floppy cloth fishing hats into which you are supposed to stick your fly fishing lures. Before leaving on a family road trip, he would appear in it. Without it, the fun could not officially begin.

My dad did a lot of physical labor, and eventually his work shirts would get thin and begin to have holes and rips in them. Maybe we kids grabbed him once and accidentally made one of the holes bigger, and then he said go for it; I can't remember. But my sister and I ripped the old shirt right off him, tore it to shreds, as if he were some geriatric Incredible Hulk, too infirm to bust out of it himself. Ever after, whenever one of his work shirts got threadbare he would don it so we kids could rip it off him. 
I am going to assume your family had this tradition too.

The saddest day I know of is the day you go without once thinking about your old man. This is not one of those days. 
. . .