Man, how long has it been since I have seen my Old Man in that suit? Or any suit for that matter. Well, if he was to be seen in a suit, it would be that one. Don’t think he ever owned any other. Mom said it was the suit Gramps bought him for his high school graduation. He wore it for their wedding too. Navy blue – three buttons – looks brand new. Guess that would go without saying there being so few times I can remember him wearing it.
Most of the other time, except maybe when he was swimming, he wore his work clothes – even to church. That is, when he went. Always the same: medium blue cotton pants without cuffs, worn shiny and threadbare. Left back pocket sprung out from lugging around his old black dog-eared wallet stuffed with everything imaginable but money. His pant legs barely covered the tops of his dusty brown Wolverines with the mismatched laces and a round steel eye looking up from each toe where the old leather had simply been scuffed away. Like a man freezing in a blizzard, they had never felt the warmth of a coat of polish. A simple blue cotton work shirt with the two topmost buttons open completed the ensemble. It was a short sleeves winter or summer. The only adornment was a white label over the left breast pocket banded in faded red with a script “Carl” embroidered on it. Only In the dead of winter, would he don his canvass Carhartt jacket with the ragged elbows and pull a red and black plaid hunter’s cap over his thinning hair.
Strange how a special occasion makes people feel like they got to put on some get up they wouldn’t otherwise wear; something uncomfortable that most folks wouldn’t hardly recognize them in. Mom’s over there by my Old Man. She’s got her best church dress on. That’s not unusual for Mom, she always wears a dress, even if it is one of her plain house dresses cinched around her waist with one of the zillion aprons she keeps stuffed in the big drawer in the kitchen. I know she’s going to cry, I hope she doesn’t muss her makeup. Here comes Janine, the girl I’m about to marry. She’s dressed up too. Of course she looks good in anything, but I like her best in those tight jeans she wears that don’t quite come up to meet her top.
Somehow, my Old Man just don’t look comfortable in that suit. Everything is just so: from the quarter inch of handkerchief protruding from the breast pocket of his pressed and brushed suit, matching perfectly the line of the shirt buttoned tight under his chin as it rims his neck, to the knot in his tie forming a perfect “V”. I bet he would like to loosen that old blue necktie with the fishing poles on it and undo a button or two. If we were sitting around the kitchen table, that’s what he’d do. He’s got on his long sleeve white shirt. Starched stiff as a board, it spends most of its life draped on a cheap hanger next to his suit in the front closet. That’s where his black, dress Haband shoes also spend their days waiting to see daylight. I made sure to buff them up real good for today.
That’s nice, Mom made sure he’s wearing those cuff links I got him for his birthday when I was ten. I didn’t even know he still had them. They’re round with a small bit of red glass embedded in the center and I thought they looked like his red plastic fishing floats.
Funny how you notice little things like that on a day like this.
Deep down, I wish my old man was wearing his usual duds. That’s the way I have always known him and the way I’ll always remember him. Like I said, he just don’t look natural in that suit. Well, the music has stopped and preacher is here. He’s dressed to the nines, but preachers always have their best get up on for a funeral.
Paul Stansbury is a life long native of Kentucky. He is the author of Inversion – Not Your Ordinary Stories, Inversion II – Creatures, Fairies, and Haints, Oh My!, Down By the Creek – Ripples and Reflections as well as a novelette: Little Green Men? His speculative fiction stories have appeared in a number of print anthologies as well as a variety of online publications. Now retired, he lives in Danville, Kentucky.