The aging of a parent occasions some adult children to suggest a father or mother no longer drive at night. Reluctantly, with love they’ll speak up. The conversation — awkward, poignant as it must be — is even more difficult when keys are grabbed altogether. Imagine the expanse of emotions eyeing a beloved within field goal range of the nursing home.

Alas, the task facing my children is different. Perhaps it’s because they live ‘cross the country. They cannot (from miles away) gauge the quality of my driving. Trust, they must, as they love in absentia. Trudging past my prime I am strengthened by their unfettered candor.

“No more graphics on your shirts, Dad”, word came down from the east. “It’s just not a good look,” urged my kid in the west.

Rarely do I wear my old T’s. Their glory days were my smaller days and the stack of Larges and Extra Larges in my closet rises higher than any in the back rooms at Norm Diamond’s old stores.  Unworn for years, they remain a reverent and rainbow coalition of shirts I can no longer fit in — even with Vaseline.

       “To all the shirts I’ve loved before,
       To all the shirts that crossed my chest—
       In sizes I’d outgrow. I ate a lot, I know.
       To all the shirts I loved before…

       “To all the shirts that covered me
       When I felt no one lovered me.
       Their graphics crossed my heart.
       They’ll always be a part—
       All the shirts I”ve loved before…”

ARSENIC AND OLD LACE (Aurora ’96. I was Teddy. Chaaaaarge!”). THE ODD COUPLE (Murray The Cop. Was not playing a fat slob not right in my wheelhouse?). THE MUSIC MAN (Ah, The Music Man. Other than 44121 no town stirs warmer memories than River City, Iowa).

       “To all the shirts that mirrored my life
       And gave me smiles in times of strife.
       I’m glad they came along
       In laughter and in song.
       To all the shirts I’ve loved before….”

WRITER (My inner Richard Castle). THE HUMAN FUND (Money For People).
SPRING BREAK ’96 SOUTH PADRE ISLAND (Michael wore it. Me? Didn’t fit). FREEDOM ISN’T FREE / I PAID FOR IT. (Did I ever tell you I was a medic in the Army?).

       “The winds of age are always blowing.
       My kids say “Dad it’s just that way.
       Please no more graphics. It’s annoying.
       Please Dad, throw them away….”


I returned from Chicago last night.  Carrie was at the airport to greet me — Called my brother as we drove — Got food from Corky’s — then went home to unpack.  I’d travelled quite lightly, of course:  just blue jeans and tees.   That’s it:  blue jeans and tees.  Black tees:  three of them.  Solid black tees!

Stacy, of course, thrilled at my wardrobe.  Truly.  And God bless her.  Little does she know that they can take the shirts off my back but not the memories from my heart.

       “…To all the shirts I’ve loved before….’

Apologies to Willie Nelson



  1. H says:

    I disagree.

    As the saying goes, “if the shirt fits, wear it”.

    There is nothing wrong with occasionally wearing a T-shirt that communicates who/where you were at a certain point in your life. There is nothing wrong with wearing it if it fits, is in good condition AND (Bruce) coordinates with the rest of your outfit.

  2. H says:

    Sorry if my previous comment enraged so many people that you were not able to post all of the comments rebutting mine.

    I apologize. Future comments from me will be less confrontational/inflammatory.

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