Friday, December 28, 2007

Dad's handkerchief

When I was growing up, Dad always carried a plain, white handkerchief in his pocket for his constantly drippy nose. As a little girl, I always liked to use his handkerchief because it was so much softer than a tissue. I think I also enjoyed the reluctance with which he gave it to me. I would tap him on the arm in the middle of church and tell him I needed a tissue. He'd give me a disapproving look, pull the handkerchief out of his pocket, unfold it and refold it to a clean section, and hand it to me. I would then shake the handkerchief open, stick it up my nose and wipe excessively, and then hand it back to him. At the time I didn't see anything wrong with that, but now I understand why he always gave me that disapproving look.

The day after he died, the first thing I did was open the top drawer of his dresser and pull out that old handkerchief from its resting place on top of his socks. It was much rattier and parts were yellowed with snot stains, but it still smelled like him and that was worth ignoring the thought of germs.

For the next two weeks that handkerchief helped me through the tears, the viewings, and finally the funeral. I eventually had to wash it, so it doesn't smell like Dad anymore, but now it sits in my top dresser drawer waiting for my next case of a drippy nose.