My Father, Myself?

My mother gave up shopping for me by the time I was 5.
She gave up shopping with me at 7. Was it because I was so skinny that I had to buy boys slim pants? Or that I embarrassed her - desperately wanting the purple and pink , Stars and Stripes bell bottom jumpsuit that she thought was

This became my fathers job. Yes! Very cool!
The man had no patience ... So I always got what I wanted- just to get out of the store!

By 11 I could no longer find my dreams in the young junior dept, so I took to designing my own. Snake skin mini skirts, faux pony midis, leopard fur vests....fortunately I had an Aunt who was a professional seamstress and could fulfill my desires.

My dad continued in the role of personal shopper for expensive things like boots and bags. Granny boots that tied and riveted up to the knee, 4 inch platform green suede boots.... A red vinyl raincoat ---a leather hoodie....He had great taste!;)

He prided himself on looking "smart". He had a friend at Botany 500 in the 70's and was a perfect 40 regular. Right off the rack. There were a few years that he gained weight, due to an attempt to quit smoking. That was short lived, he was more concerned about his wardrobe than his health.

During college I had a summer job as a "swatch boy" at Cross Country Clothes. The man I worked for was more interested in skirts than suits. I fended him off politely until Sept, and then told him off. I was just 18. I still managed to get my dad a few samples.

My first real  job in 80's was working at Oscar dela Renta menswear. I made sure that all the men in my family bought their tuxedos. (for wedding number 1)   I would bring home swatches of suit choices for him, in pure wool. He was delighted. I then became  his personal shopper.

Sadly, I recently had the  distinction of helping my mother select my fathers finale outfit. The suit was easy, there were a lot to choose from -- though he hadn't worn one in a very long time.

The tie was next. His drawer opened with a smell of wood and well, my dad. He shaved with Noxema for years, I imagined I smelled that too.

Oh, I thought, this will be quick, I knew his ties well. There were the Countess Mara ones that he was so proud of. (I humored him) I preferred the rich madder silks. Then I saw the red one. It was a deep barn red, I thought of it as a favorite of his or was that  mine?
It was the only tie that had stains on it, rendering it un- useable
But it was there just the same.  I took a breath - in hailing the memories....No, that wouldn't do. He was meticulous about his appearance; I wondered why he kept it.

I picked out a paisley, rich in amber, ocher, plum . I thought I must have given it to him. It was more my taste, than his. As I dug deeper to the bottom of his tie drawer, I found wide ties, skinny ties, knitted ties..... A lifetime of images passed. Time was punctuated by style and I had an emotion for it all.{C}

My mother said she had pressed his favorite shirt. This was news to me. He always seemed to have on a different plaid sport shirt every time I saw him, with a historic Lenor  sweater.

The blue oxford shirt it would be, with the Kirkland label, with the printed silk tie, under a dark grey suit

Days after the funeral I went back to help my mom with his things. Boxes of gifts (of clothes) that my father never got around to wearing.. Some even had moth holes & store tickets -waiting for that special day.

Then it occurred to me, while I never liked ruffles, was it my father's influence that made me choose men's wear as a career? Even though he wanted at least one of us to become a dentist! Somehow  I never attributed my love of masculine clothes to my dad....  The crispy cotton, the soft wool flannel, the silk ties, the huggable sweaters ....... I always thought it was a rejection of girly-girl Quiana, lace and bows!

In the past few years, his finale years, I made it a point to tell him how much I loved him. I gave him a card with of all his    "expressions" typed across it, in different colors and fonts. He studied it for a while, and then exclaimed "This is all true!!!"

I gently  reminded him that these were  his words, the  words he taught me to live by. They served me well.


But, I never thanked him.

So,  thank you dad, for all you taught me,  and all you have influenced me , whether I've realized it or not!{C}