Saturday, April 7, 2018

A Flannel Shirt Kind of Day

This morning I was getting ready to take the dog out and pondered what to wear during this cold snap. My eyes lit on an old flannel shirt. Yes, this was a flannel shirt kind of day.

As I pulled on the shirt, I thought about the history of this shirt. The frayed collar and the ripped shirttail were indications of a well-worn shirt. That’s not too odd considering the shirt had aged a quarter of a century, or more.

Jim and I both wore his flannel shirts on cool spring days when we were building our house. In fact, I believe the tear in this shirt came from catching the shirttail on a nail.   

On a day like today, Jim might have put on a flannel shirt, grabbed up his fishing pole, and headed to the lake. The fish always tasted better when the water was cold.

Fishing brought Jim a lot of enjoyment. I remember one time after he first started showing signs of dementia, he decided to go to Truman to fish. I went off to work, happy that he was going to enjoy the day.

I wrote about that day in my journal, and here is an excerpt from Indelible:

My co-worker Tammy thought I was out of the office, but when she called my cell phone, Jim answered.

She came into my office. “I think there’s something wrong with him,” she said. “He just didn’t sound right.” Jim’s plans for the day had been a trip to Truman Dam to fish.

I called his cell phone. “Where are you,” I asked him.

“Right here,” he said.

“Can you tell me where you are? What highway are you on?”               

“I’m on I-70,” he said, “and I have a friend with me.” I-70 was the opposite direction from Truman.

“What are you doing on I-70?” I asked.

“I’m taking my friend to Higginsville,” he said.

“Who is your friend?”

“I don’t know his name. He needed a ride home.”          

Jim was easily distracted and I was afraid to keep him talking while he was driving on the Interstate. I told him to call me as soon as he got home. Jim’s assurance that he knew this guy didn’t mean anything. If someone started a conversation with him, Jim thought that meant he knew the person.

Why I kept this flannel shirt out of all Jim’s shirts is a mystery. Apparently, when I sorted through his clothing to donate to Open Door, I didn’t consider this shirt worthy of charity.

I hadn’t worn the shirt in a long time and my dog was curious. She sniffed the sleeves as I fastened her leash to the harness. I thought maybe the shirt smelled funny from being in a drawer, but it smelled fine to me. It smelled of memories and younger days. If I used my imagination, it might have smelled of campfires and Colorado mornings.

So today, I am wrapped up in memories of flannel shirt days, wearing a shirt that should have been tossed in the ragbag twenty years ago. Minimalists warn us about this kind of hoarding.

I have a new ladies’ flannel shirt that isn’t threadbare or torn. So wouldn’t the logical thing be to toss this shirt? When I take it off tonight, it will be decision time. Do I throw it away or put it in the laundry? Trash or treasure? My mind says trash, but my heart says treasure. When in doubt, I follow my heart.

Copyright © April 2018 by L.S. Fisher

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