My father never had a job that required a suit. He was a hands on mechanic and wore working men’s clothes in his various occupations. He was a guy who was not afraid to get dirty. I’m glad I inherited that trait from him.
He had a suit, blue as I recall and he would wear it to weddings, christenings, other special family events and he always wore it to funerals.
As he got on in years he went to fewer and fewer weddings and christenings as his children, nieces and nephews grew and started families of their own. But you know what’s coming next don’t you?
The deaths of friends and loved ones replaced those happy family gatherings. Funerals soon became the only reason for him to wear that suit.
As a result the suit’s pockets collected mass cards and memorial cards and other funeral related items. I’m pretty sure that at some point funeral homes probably gave away matchbooks.
This was back when every adult I knew smoked, indoors,outdoors, in cars, in hospitals, around children, near infants. It’s what they did. But back to the suit and it’s collection of remembrances.
Every time he went to a funeral he took a card and slipped it in his coat pocket and the card stayed in his suit. One time when he was wearing it for yet another funeral he remarked how it had become his funeral suit because that was the only time he wore it. I think we buried him in it. I can’t really recall.
And so now to me…I have a dark sport coat. I don’t own a suit and haven’t had one for years. But the sport coat is part of my funeral attire and I collect mass cards, remembrances but no matchbooks. I slip a card into a pocket and forget about it until the next time I wear the jacket.
I took the jacket to the cleaners on Saturday and went through the pockets before I dropped it off at the counter. The coat and me had been to three funerals in the last year. I had tangible proof even if I had a hazy memory of where I was and why I was there.
So, this story is really about a lot of things, my Dad, me, our lives, funerals, what we become and who we become when we’re not paying attention.
I get the jacket back on Wednesday.