Over the years, I received a host of different gifts. Some have been great, some were generic and then there were some truly special ones. My nephew Nick gave me an M*A*S*H wallet one Christmas; I loved it! I kept that thing until it just about literally fell apart.
My daughter Alexa has given me all kinds of neat things from the time she was a little girl. One time, a few years back, there was a particularly special present. It was a t-shirt.
We were traveling through Massachusetts, on our way to Martha’s Vineyard. We stopped at a little roadside string of shops to get some gas. We long ago learned it was best to fuel up before getting on the ferry.
Strolling among the aisles of the main store, we saw a rack of tee shirts. My wife, Jo Ann, picked up one. She showed it to Alexa and then to me and I smiled.
It was a white tee shirt covered in small images, images of lighthouses from all over the country. Now, anyone who knows me knows how I feel about lighthouses. They are without a doubt one of my favourite things in the world.
I don’t know what it is about lighthouses; I just love them! The decision made, they would get the tee shirt for me as a Fathers’ Day present. The day was only a few days away, there weren’t many places available to them to shop and thus it seemed appropriate.
Just the other day, I was at the gym. I donned my workout clothes. I’d thrown shorts and a couple tee shirts in my bag. That way I always had something to wear when I wanted to exercise.
This day, my shirt was that old tee shirt, covered with lighthouses. Pulling it over my head, I finished dressing and headed out to the exercise floor. Part of my routine was to get a good cardio workout by riding a stationary bike for about five minutes.
As I pedaled, I sat and thought. It was my time for quiet contemplation and introspection. It was also when I usually got my best story ideas. I recently got a great one for a treasure hunt movie featuring a bickering brother and sister, but that’s for another time.
Sitting on the bike, I thought back over the years since getting that shirt and all that had happened in our lives. That tee shirt had seen a great deal and I still loved the feel of its simple cloth against my skin. I received many great gifts in the intervening years and, yet, how much I loved this one.
Yeah, like that old wallet and the horse skull from my brother Steve, the t-shirt occupied a special place in my life, in my heart and soul. The wallet is gone. The skull crumbled to dust. Only the tee shirt remains.
Yeah, I plan to keep the tee shirt close for a long time, even if it doesn’t fit. All were unique gifts that touched me, appealed to some special aspect of my psyche and I would keep them as long as possible for one simple fact: they were expressions of love to me from someone I cared, deeply, about.
I only hope that I’ve been able to give the same to others.
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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