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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hand-me-downs and Tshirts That Prophesy and Comfort
















There is one thing all the Armstrong grandchildren have in common, besides a biting wit and the smart _ ss gene. That is a yellow Kermit the Frog t shirt. They all wore it, from Cory to Lauren. We should have had it framed but in those days a hand-me-down t shirt was not near as sentimental as it was functional.





Little kids love getting hand-me-downs from older siblings or cousins. Our son, Eric was once given some play clothes belonging to his cousin Lance. There were several stripped knit shirts that were worn and baggy, but Eric loved them. I remember one Sunday, I had him dressed for church in a blue pullover with his name monogrammed on it. He was so cute and, I thought, way to young to care what other kids would think. After Sunday school, I walked into church and there he was, waiting for me on the front pew wearing one of those stripped shirts, his sweater crumpled up beside him.





Then there are those great finds or vintage clothing. We found a few neat old things in the attic of an old house we bought in the country. This included a fully in tacked cat skeleton. That's a story for another time. But what Lauren found up there was an old thread bare t shirt with "Lake Texhoma 1985" on the front. She washed it and wore it for many years. We had never even seen Lake Texhoma. A few years later she started to college in Durant Oklahoma, which just happen to be right by Lake Texhoma where she and her friends spent so much time. She was wearing the shirt at home one weekend and I said "Who knew when you found that old shirt, you would be hanging out at Lake Texhoma all these years later?" She said "Yeah, and I was born in 1985".





I think my favorite old clothes story is one about a S M U (Southern Methodist University) sweatshirt My husband Jon bought in the 70's. It was one of those old styles with a hood and front pocket, very soft and warm. After we married, SMU was on probation for something, I don't remember, and their football teams were really bad for several years. Anyway, too ashamed to wear it, Jon gave it to me. I wore it through three pregnancies and for some time after. At some point I decided I was too old for a hooded sweatshirt and packed it away.





One weekend, Sarah and Lauren were both home from college, arguing and picking at each other while I was cleaning out my closet. I pulled the sweatshirt out of a box and, not expecting any kind of a response, I said "Who wants a vintage SMU sweatshirt?" I think it was the word vintage, but they started to fight over it. Of course Lauren won, or maybe Sarah just gave in.





After Lauren died, I saw a picture of her very good friend and roommate, Amy wearing the sweatshirt. I smiled and then I cried. I hope when she is cold she finds comfort in the sweatshirt. And I also hope when she misses Lauren, Amy will bring the shirt to her face and take a deep breath. That's what I do with the Lake Texhoma t shirt. It kind of helps.

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A wife, mother, and spoiler of small dogs, I grew up in a small West Texas town, with my eyes full of sand, and my heart full of joy.


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