When I was a teenager, I stole two things from my parents’ stash of clothing in their garage. Twenty-three years later and I regret nothing.
I wasn’t looking for anything specific that fateful day when I decided to rummage through the boxes in the garage. Perhaps I was seeking a stroll down memory lane that only lost or forgotten items can offer.
That is when I came across two jackets.
The first was a fade Pancho with white, orange, black and salmon-coloured vertical stripes. The scent of Swisher Sweet cigarillos my father used to smoke when I was a child still lingered in the rough fabric. I couldn’t remember the last time he wore the hooded garment, but I could envision him wearing it to one of his for-fun softball games in my youth.
With the poncho was a well-worn, faded jean jacket. The elbows were blown out and the edges of the button pockets on the chest were frayed. Many pictures from my childhood featured this jacket on my mother, a casual addition to her outfit during the 70s. If I remembered right, she stole the jacket from her mother-in-law.
I removed the two jackets from the boxes and hung them in my closet. When I left for college, I found new closets for them to hang in.
Eventually, these two jackets would appear when my world was disrupted. When I got a divorce and moved into my own studio apartment, I rediscovered the jackets as they transitioned to my new home. When I packed up what was left of my belongings to move to Canada with the new boy in my life, the jackets rode shotgun.
The jackets offered a layer of warmth and comfort when I found them hanging in my closet. They were a subtle reminder of life uncomplicated — a time when I was surrounded by loved ones and well protected. A time when life was simple. A time when I was small enough to sit on my dad’s lap and feel his bear arms around me.
Before I knew that holding on to those two jackets would be the last pieces of my dad I had. Before I wished for just one more hug.
They still smell like my parents, but I think that is mostly in my head.
Every once in a while, when in transition or my world is a bit dark, when my heart sinks to bleak depths, I pull out those two jackets and wrap the arms around me.
For one more hug from both of my parents.