My husband died earlier this year.
I know the contemporary term is passed, but I am old school when it comes to language.
Anyhow, in January, about a week after Charlie left us, I invited our sons and grandsons upstairs to take anything they wanted from his capacious closet.
The first item selected was not what I expected.
It was his Princeton Class of 1952 reunion jacket, a garish object of orange black and white stripes that would look terrific in a high school production of The Music Man. The long-haired grandson who took it smiled as he explained he would wear it when he played his guitar in a heavy metal band. If jackets had eyebrows, I imagined them shooting up.
Next to go was Charlie’s tuxedo, not new by any means, but a classic style.
That went off draped over the arm of the most traditional of our grandsons, a young man who had just entered the business world. I was so pleased that he’d chosen to give the tuxedo a second life, that I dug up Charlie’s pearl and platinum studs and cuff links to accompany the outfit.
I don’t know who went off with the gray trousers embroidered with red candy canes that Charlie used to wear every Christmas season. Will they be part of an ironic band outfit or worn with a straight face? Guess it doesn’t matter.
Soon, all the business suits were gone and most of the sports jackets.
Leather oxfords that had been gathering dust for years also went out the door. A son took a lot of white tee shirts to use in his woodworking business. A sentimental daughter took some short sleeved shirts that look like jackets on her.
So now the period of plunder is over.
But the closet is still full of clothes. There’ s the eight biking outfits that I don’t know what to do with.
There are also a couple of bathrobes and a set of yellow foul weather gear left over from our sailing days. But it’s the things hanging in the center of the closet that have me close to either laughing or crying.
The things nobody chose to take are the very things Charlie wore the most.
A navy blue blazer with brass buttons. Blue and white plaid shirts, blue and white checked shirts and blue and white striped shirts.
Blue was Charlie’s favorite color, and I found plenty of nice no-iron shirts at Costco that catered to his preference.
He liked gray flannel trousers and khaki pants….and they’re all there, too. Traditional pants don’t seem to appeal to the younger generation.
Underneath the row of shirts, are pairs of sneakers lined up on the floor. In his last years, Charlie took to wearing sneakers rather than his usual loafers.
When I open the closet and see all these familiar things, I feel as if Charlie might be just around the corner.
Other widows have expressed amazement that I so easily let my family loose in Charlie’s things.
They tell me they couldn’t get rid of their husband’s clothes for ages.
For me, sharing his things with the family was not a problem.
But now, looking at those favorites hanging on the rod, I can’t summon up the courage to bundle the leftovers to contribute to Harbor Interfaith ‘s monthly clothing giveaway.
What if I passed a guy on the San Pedro street wearing a blue checked shirt, gray pants and a blazer?
Would I smile, or in the words of Patsy Kline, would I “fall to pieces?”
Think I’ll put off clearing that closet for just a while longer.