One early spring day 1979 I was surprised to receive a small check in the mail from my paternal grandmother’s estate. Not only had she never met me in person, but she had passed away 23 years earlier.
The check was enough to fill my car with a load of groceries. Or not. I chose the latter. I went shopping.
I don’t remember what I purchased for myself or for the two girls. (Our third was still a twinkle in her daddy’s eye.) But, I DO remember the gift I purchased for my husband. It was a striped shirt of multiple blues in a very popular loose knit style. It was the most I had every spent on a single item of clothing.
We had a little package opening party that evening when I arrived home from work.
“Wow!” He exclaimed. “This is really nice!”
He tried it on and it was a perfect fit. I suggested he take it off and hang it in his closet.
“The directions say ‘dry clean only.’ “ I warned him. “And, I would like you to save it for special occasions.”
“Okay,” he said, and wandered towards the bedroom closet.
A few minutes later I saw him… outside looking under the hood of our neighbors car. Still wearing the shirt.
I opened the door and yelled -- “Take that shirt off!”
“Be right in – we’re just talking.” he promised.
A few minutes later I looked outside and I saw his feet sticking out from under the side of the automobile. I pedaled myself out there with steam rolling out of my ears.
“Get that new shirt off right now!” I screamed. Too late.
He came out from under the car with a big smudge already adorning the costly material. There were daggers piercing him from my eyes and he was acting sheepish and apologetic.
Later, I pulled the shirt out of the laundry hamper to assess the damage. That’s when I noticed he had also pulled a thread from the loose weave. I turned it inside out to determine if the thread could be salvaged by pulling it back the other direction on the inside. That’s when he walked up beside me.
“Oh! That’s easy to fix!” He pointed, and before I could object, pulled out his pocket knife and cut it. SNIP.
I started crying.
My inheritance. Gone in 60 seconds. (I could have written that movie.)
I didn’t speak to him that night or the next morning. I was truly angry.
That is why I was surprised the next afternoon by his attempt to make amends.
“Hey, hon. I’m really sorry about the shirt. I figured I’d do my best to get it fixed. I took it down to the lady at the store that does the altering and she made it look pretty good.”
I was somewhat mollified. Then, I reminded him he would need to get it dry cleaned, too.
The oddest look crossed his face.
“What?” I rolled my eyes then closed them in dread.
“I washed it.” He whispered.
We walked into the utility closet, opened the wash machine, and removed the shirt. It was about half the size of the one I’d paid a fortune for the day before.
In a very nice gesture, he gave it to the little teenage girl that lived across the street. It looked pretty nice on her, too.
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