While cleaning out my closet, in preparation for a garage sale, I came across a jacket of Dad's. I never wear it anymore, but will never let it go either.
I had rescued this jacket from one of Mom's garage sales nearly 30 years ago. At the time, it was going out of style and when I saw it, realized it had finally come back around. It's a brown plaid jacket with leather buttons and leather patches on the elbows. Granted, probably not everyone would think it's a prize-winning fashion statement, but it suited me and my quirky way of dressing.
Finding the jacket, stuffed in the back of the closet, brought a flood of memories of the time Dad was certain I had confiscated it from right under his nose. He couldn’t remember most people’s names, the day or the date, but instantly recognized a jacket he hadn’t worn for decades.
The conversation wasn't going well when I tried to tell him I had saved it from one of Mom's garage sales. I finally convinced him I’d wear it, only on loan, as he demanded it be back in his closet by evening. Hoping he wouldn't remember, I took it off before I got back to his house. As soon as I walked in, he started in again about his "new, expensive" jacket.
I had never resorted to this kind of "trickery" before but — I had become attached to the jacket — and I knew he would never wear it anyway. I told him I had his jacket downstairs and would be right back. When I came back I produced a suede coat we had stored downstairs for winter. He looked at it, inventoried it, and said, "this is the jacket you took from my closet?" I guiltily said "yes." He was good with it and put his “new, expensive jacket" in his closet.
The next day a meeting kept me from coming home for lunch. My daughter called and said Dad had asked her if she had talked to me because he thought I was really mad at him. The conversation, as he remembered it, was I wanted to borrow his "expensive" new suede coat to wear to a pool hall and when he said no, I stormed out of the house. I explained to her I never intended to go to a pool hall or much less wanted to wear his suede coat, but I was guessing he was thinking it was 1976 instead of present day.
Three days later as Dad and I were eating our lunch he pulled the suede coat out of the closet in a dry cleaner's bag. He said, "You can have the jacket, I had it cleaned for you, but if you get water spots on it, it's your hide."
I realized I didn’t need to "trick" Dad when he couldn’t remember what's been given or what's been taken, but more importantly, to make him feel like his possessions were safe and secure whether they were real or imaginary.
I ended up with two jackets, with a lesson learned, which is much more valuable – we may lose our memory – but never our memories.
Sandy Turner lives in Independence. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.