Growing up as an only son had its advantages.
Besides the usual exclusive guy time with Dad, I received certain hand-me-downs. I have his first multi-tool. The blade is dull, the pliers slide mechanism worn, and he’s long since purchased the latest model. Memory tweaks whenever I take it out, though. I remember his excitement when he first got it. He was so proud; I think I was ten and appropriately awestruck by the little attachments which folded out and promised a myriad of possibilities.
There are hand-me-downs which I coveted and are never coming to me. One is a red and black checked shirt. Picture the usual lumberjacky-type number you see in cologne commercials and you’ve got it. Many are the times which Dad came in from the shop, wood shavings clinging to the sleeves, waving a new wooden piece of art he’d just created for Mum or one of us with a new tool he unwrapped for Christmas or his birthday. I remember us kids attempting to be helpful and brushing the wood chips off. I remember Mum yelping and saying, “Not on the rug! Brush off in the laundry room!”
The other prospective heirloom was a white sweater with a black, blue, brown, and white geometric pattern banding the torso. One section of the design puts me in mind of the night sky, starless, fireworks exploding over pale mountains. It also reminds me of J.R.R. Tolkein’s artwork in The Father Christmas Letters. My early years in Maine are twenty-six years behind me and yet his sweater is one of my cherished memories from that foggy time. He brought it cross-country and wore it during winter months. I think we found a hole in it once and his face took on a rare, sheepish quality, “Power drill,” he explained.
My sisters and I would get into arguments over who got the iconic clothing. I think my little sister snagged the checked shirt. The sweater disappeared and my mother informed me of its new, unknown residence in a landfill somewhere, so ratty and pitted it had become.
I grumped. My little sister did something more productive and learned to knit. She offered to make me some half gloves since I’d lost mine. “And I can make them look like Dad’s old sweater!”
She did. By gummy, she did.
There’s a type of knitting called “steganographic knitting” out there where people conceal coded messages within the stitches. Now, you won’t find any codes in the stitches of these gloves, but you can bet whenever I wear them, I will read “Dad” throughout the pattern.