My tie is frayed. I should get rid of it. I have many ties. Getting rid of one should not be news.
My father’s tie.
On November 10th, 1997, I was speaking to my father. It was a memorable conversation. The Eagles were playing the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football.
At that time, I was living in Brooklyn and my parents were living in Philadelphia. So, my father and I were talking on the phone. Of course, I called during halftime. I was taught well.
I called to wish my father happy birthday. He was 65 years old. He was coughing a lot so our conversation was brief. He was in a hospital bed. The doctors were running some tests. Anyway, we spoke a bit about the game, and he was more optimistic about the Eagles than I was.
I should have known right then that something was wrong.
My father died the next day. I did not make it back home to Philadelphia in time.
While he had been sick on and off for the previous few months, no one – including the doctors – were clear on what was wrong with him or the extent of his illness.
The shock was great.
My father and I could always talk about sports. However, other topics were not always as easy. We did not bring out the conversationalist in each other.
As I got older, our range of conversations deepened and so did our relationship.
My father and I were out one day.
“Hey dad, check this one out.” We were in Today’s Man (Wiki – Today’s Man) on Roosevelt Boulevard in Northeast Philadelphia.
My father had asked me to come clothes shopping with him. He liked my taste in ties. He may have just wanted to hang out. My mother might have encouraged him to ask me. She also liked my taste in ties.
“I don’t know.”
“Okay,” I answered. I put the tie down. He ran a few of his tie choices past me. I showed him some more.
Eventually, we walked out of the store with a couple of ties.
His death was just a few months later.
My mother encouraged me to take my father’s ties. And I agreed to do so.
I wore my father’s ties sparingly.
I wore one of the ties on what would have been my parents 38th wedding anniversary. I wore one of the ties during the Passover Seder the following April. I wore one of the ties on his birthday the following year. The ties were always my first consideration at formal family gatherings, holidays, and bar mitzvahs.
Over the years, the ties never fully entered my rotation (between work and the Sabbath, I wear a tie six days a week). However, my father’s ties started appearing more regularly.
A few years back one of my father’s ties was showing wear. It was brown and blue and matched a lot of my clothes. I liked it. And it had been my father’s. I thought about keeping the tie as a memento.
I eventually got rid of it. I still had one of my father’s ties left, I told myself.
I wore that tie this past Sabbath. When I took off the tie, I noticed it had grown worn and frayed. If it were any other tie, I would have thrown it in the trash. But this is the last of my father’s ties.
It’s been over 16 years that he has passed, and the tie itself is nearly 17 years old. My father’s tie has served me well. I’ll never wear it again. I tell myself these things as I try to convince myself to get rid of the tie.
It’s part of my memory of my father. If I throw it out, it will be like throwing out a piece of my father. I could let it sit on the tie rack even if it never gets worn. All I’ll have left is his worn business card in my wallet. I tell myself these things as I try to convince myself to keep the tie.
I don’t know what to do about my father’s tie.