by Estil Fretwell
Recently I came upon Dad’s farm jacket I inherited when he passed away almost 20 years ago. Out of curiosity, I tried it on. Now Dad liked to eat, and while he was not necessarily fat, he was rather “husky.” To my alarm, the jacket fit quite well. Further examination of the jacket brought back many memories about Dad.
First, the jacket didn’t have a moniker that would indicate he received it from the salesman of a seed grain, feed, machinery or chemical company, although there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, I have a couple myself. No, this was a jacket purchased at a farm supply store, tree-leaf green with a red, lightly quilted liner – you know the one. It wasn’t expensive but would last Dad several years.
Because it lacked dirt, and particularly grease, the jacket wasn’t one Dad wore while working on the farm. It was a jacket to wear to town or maybe even church. In contrast, I remember Dad’s work coat that not only sported grease but also rips and frayed sleeves, much like today’s high-priced fashion.
Turning the jacket over, I noticed a curious splotch of light pink paint that seemed to match the color of the wicker flower baskets Mom kept near the back door. Thinking there wouldn’t be a problem, Dad likely slipped the jacket on to help Mom paint the baskets. Been there, thought that, done that! The jacket also had a familiar smell that reminded me of Dad, a liberal user of Aqua Velva after shave.
Then I reached into the pockets.
In the right pocket were small round disks, which were immediately recognizable – Tums. Dad had acid indigestion. Long before Prilosec, Nexium, Pepcid AC, Zantac, Prevacid (can you tell I have the same problem?), Dad would frequently pop Tums. It’s the only addiction I can say Dad had. He didn’t smoke, didn’t drink and stopped using chewing tobacco when my older brother and he struck a deal – Dad would quit chewing if my brother quit smoking.
The other pocket contained pieces of plastic-wrapped peppermint candy. Dad could always be counted on to have an incentive or a reward for good behavior in church. We won’t discuss the consequences of bad behavior.
Also in this pocket was a cash register receipt, memorabilia from the community farm store that closed many years ago. It was for $8.33 and on the back was written “leather gloves” and the name of the store. This seems a little expensive for gloves back 20 plus years ago, but maybe it included more than one pair or other purchases…probably candy.
Yeah, Dad had a sweet tooth, but as the jacket reminded me, he was also God-fearing, frugal, hard-working, unpretentious, stern and kind, a good example – loved and missed.