The year was 1990-something and I was in eighth grade. In search of a top to go with my old, faded Levi’s, and living with my grandparents at the time, old sweaters were the in thing. Where splatter-paint t-shirts, turtlenecks, and Reeboks were in high demand.
But, I’d found it, the perfect sweater, which belonged to my grandfather and smelled like smoke tobacco and longevity. The neck was loose and it didn’t fit quite right, but I loved it. A navy blue, cream, crimson red with some sort of odd, abstract Christmas design, I thought it was perfect, and it looked great with my Levi’s.
Remember, 1990 something? When Rod Stewart’s Have I Told You Lately infiltrated the airwaves with raspy love. When Sleepless In Seattle had just hit movie theaters. When we used Walk Mans and played mixed tapes that we recorded from our Boom Boxes at home. When we used encyclopedias to research school papers--papers that were written with a pen and lined paper. When Google didn’t exist. Anyhow, the sweater had become my favorite. I wore it with leggings and slouch socks. I wore it with jeans and turtlenecks and tank tops and love.
Time passed and the old sweater began to hang in my closet like an old friend, but I never got rid of it. I’d bring it out occasionally during the holidays and when I did, 1993 came flooding back.
Walk Mans Boom Boxes. Rod Stewart. Turtlenecks. Sleepless in Seattle.
The smell of my grandfather’s smoke tobacco, his low hum when he was deep in thought. Twenty-seven(ish) years have passed since my grandfather’s sweater adorned my shoulders for the first time. Yesterday, I wore the sweater for Thanksgiving and the simplicity of the world back then slithered into my mind like grace occasionally seems to do when we’re angry.
Rod Stewart sang lightly into my ears. Smoke tobacco danced into my airways. I missed my grandparents.
But, I quickly became reminded how simple life can be if we concisely choose to be grateful for what we have, and not yearn for what we want.
I was reminded how simple life can be when we have the ones we love. We may not be able to physically be with some--but they're there because they exist too.
My grandfather passed away two years ago and while I miss him dearly, I get to have the old sweater he never asked for back after all those years. I get to miss him. I get to feel. I get to love and I get to breathe air and hug my kids, my husband. I get to sit in my warm bed and think about all the reasons I’m grateful (cup of coffee in hand)--and watch the sunrise while my family sleeps. Life is simply a get-to.
I’m going to listen to Rod Stewart today. I’m going to watch Sleepless in Seattle. I’m going to look through old pictures and spend time with my family. I’m going to do this because I GET TO exist and be grateful for the present moment.