…but they sure make it hard to let him go! If you haven’t yet parted with the clothes of someone you loved, sooner or later you will. It’s another rite of passage in the long goodbye. It’s the admission that no, he or she won’t ever again be coming back to wear them – not the shirts or jackets that still have their scent or shoes with their feet imprinted inside.
Sooner or later, those clothes, at least most of them, will be released from your care. And you are the only one who will know when that will be. You were issued no calendar date; no deadline. You are the keeper of the memories and only you will know when it’s okay to emancipate them. For me that day happened almost by accident.
First, I must say – my husband was a classy guy . And his clothes showed it. He wasn’t a clothes horse and didn’t spend the household budget on them (he saved that for his hobby collections –but that’s another post! Lol) My guy had good taste, looked very GQ handsome in a suit and always ‘cleaned up well’. He didn’t shop much but what he chose was classic and well-made; in other words clothes that lasted. In fact, they lasted after he was gone – thus the dilemma of how and where to disseminate them.
I remembered reading, a few years ago, about a charity called “Dress for Success’. As most know, this is a group who supplies donate business attire to women who don’t have the resources. This opportunity can mean everything to those needing to make a good first impression, affording the confidence to take the next step in their life. I kept thinking that somewhere there must be the same kind of opportunity for men. One night, as sat idly searching the net, I came across one or two just such ideas but for different reasons, they didn’t match my needs. Ready to call it a day, a site suddenly appeared with vaguely familiar familiar address. Curious, I wrote and asked them if my hunch was right —and their reply was ‘right’ in more ways than I even hoped. A mission attached to my husband’s beloved high school, they assured me that their purpose is exactly what I hoped, and they would be honored to receive my husband’s clothes, who in his last act as an alumni would still truly be a ‘man for others’.
Well, you can imagine my reaction! I knew it was nothing if not serendipity. When my daughter told me that a friend of hers, who lived nearby, was a dean at that school, well ‘hello’! If there was ever a light bulb moment – this was it.
For some reason, I was fairly peaceful packing up each of the items, intent on keeping them neatly on hangers, giving them their due consideration. But reality hit me like a proverbial ton of bricks the next day as I delivered them all to my daughter’s friend. Handing him each piece from car, I could feel my heart break with every box and hanger. Reality is so much harder than theory, isn’t it?
Still, looking at the picture I received the next morning, the image of the school’s students reverently holding my husband’s clothes assured me that indeed I did the right thing. I knew from the mission’s carefully tended racks, the right shirt or suit would find its way to giving another man hope. My husband, the go-to-guy to pass along resumes and tirelessly network for people who lost their jobs, would totally get my desire to give his clothes a new professional life.
My ‘man for others’ has vanished from this planet. Somewhere, though a man is walking into an interview in a nearly new suit with a lift in his step. He never met the guy who made that confidence possible but I suspect my guy is saying in his ear— ‘you got this’.