My Father’s Tie

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.

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.

14 thoughts on “My Father’s Tie

  1. No option other than to keep the tie, the memories it has are worth its weight in gold! I still keep my torn tie from the day of the funeral as a reminder though i much prefer the memories found in the few pictures I have managed to accumulate. For a guy who did not like to throw things out, there weren’t too many keepsakes when he passed away!

    • I suppose I should keep it.
      I wanted to keep that tie but I remember being told we weren’t supposed to. It was about moving forward and not dwelling.
      Last point is ironic and so true.

  2. I would never throw it away. It wouldn’t even occur to me honestly. I loved this story. I haven’t lost either of my parents, but I imagine if I did I would love to have this memento that always made me think of them.

    Keep it.

  3. This might sound really weird, but could you frame it or put it in a glassed shadow-box? With the right frame it might be an amazing piece of art for your wall.

    But maybe I’ve been surfing Pinterest too long…

    How many ties do you own if you wear them six days a week? That’s a lot of tie wearing.

    • Frame it? Log off of Pinterest Ms. Anyway, I get what you are saying but I think it’s much.
      Yes, I do a lot of tie wearing – very accurate.

  4. That sounds like a great keepsake. I’m sure there are lots of crafty things to do with old ties, however you don’t strike me as the crafty type. Whatever you decide to do with it will be the right decision for you.

  5. Okay, it is so hard for me to remember to come comment over here! Love the story. Sometimes it is hard to get rid of “things” and they are just “things” and our memories aren’t going to be lost because we let go of the “thing” we are hanging onto – BUT, sometimes, our soul just needs us to keep it!

    • Why is it hard? Curious.

      Yes, you have hit my dilemma on the head. I am not sure if it is good to always hold to such things.

  6. I’m with everyone else – keep the tie. I’m not going to go all Pinterest crafty on you (and you KNOW I can!) but you should take it out of the tie rotation and keep it with your other memories. I have a plastic bin that I keep things from Jake growing up. I wanted to keep everything but I decided to buy a medium size bin to keep just a few things that mean the most to me.

    Keep the tie and put it someplace where you keep things from your boys. And then think about how cool it’ll be when you go into the box later and see all these memories.

    • Thanks for the non-Pinterest reply. I don’t know if I could have taken that.
      Seriously, I guess I will keep it. It’s out of the rotation.

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