This past Christmas, one of my presents was a shirt. No big surprise there, many people get clothes that time of the year. As a kid, I always groaned when someone would torment me with garments as gifts. It was Christmas for Pete’s sake! Didn't these people know that clothes for presents were like getting apples on Halloween?
Yet, my mother insisted that I smile and thank the person nicely. I tried, but I seriously doubt my performance was Oscar-worthy. What young child was able to playing that part convincingly? Maybe Shirley Temple, but I don’t see anyone else able to do it.
People do tend to mature with age. These days, I sometimes ask for clothes, as I know what good taste my wife has. After all, I’m an engineer and my fashion sense is, well, let’s be honest, nil!
This past year, my wife didn't disappoint me. I got several nice outfits for work. Then I came to the last gift and opened it.
The las box contained two items: a shirt and a bottle of Jose Cuervo Gold Tequila. Those two might sound like an odd pairing, but not if you know my family. You see, the shirt was a colorful Hawaiian-type: white with sailboats and seascapes, all over it, and silky soft.
That type of shirt and that drink were favourites of special person: my brother Stephen.
Saying Steve, my late brother, loved Jose Cuervo Gold Tequila and colourful decorative shirts is like saying kids love chocolate. Among the members of my family, both were pretty much a given. He even had a favorite mix: the tequila with some grapefruit juice and three sliced lime wheels. I had it once, damn fine drink!
As for the shirt, he wore them almost constantly and had a closet full of different ones. Last Christmas, getting one such shirt brought me a little closer to him. It had only been a month and a half since his passing and the pain of that loss still burned bright inside me. To hold a shirt that he would have loved to get brought a tidal wave of emotions and memories crashing over me.
I wear that shirt a lot now. When I put my hand on it and rub, I almost get the same sensation as when we used to hug.
Steve was big on hugging; it was his way of saying hello and goodbye. You never got away from him without at least one hug. As our family was made of stuff New Englanders; people, frankly, not known for being emotional and touchy feely; it was due entirely to the efforts of Steve that we hugged at all.
Yeah, I know, that’s a total stereotype I shouldn’t push. Well, that’s the thing about stereotypes; each one exists for a reason. Sometimes they’re quite true. That’s the way my family is, but Steve insisted on lots of hugging.
I miss those hugs. I love that shirt and I have a feeling I'll be getting a few more in the coming years. I also fully intend to hug every member of our family every chance I get. Thank you, my brother, for instituting that policy.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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