dirndl skirt's doings:

some thoughts, some memories, some art

dirndl skirt

dirndl skirt
Beacon, New York, USA
May 25
Top Cat (sometimes)
Sharon Watts ...Creative
I'm an illustrator in my day job, but I keep leaking with other things that need to get out. I compiled a book "Miss You, Pat: Collected Memories of NY's Bravest of the Brave, Captain Patrick J. Brown" which enables me to die knowing I did one good thing. But I have more up my sleeve!


Editor’s Pick
JUNE 15, 2011 4:19PM

My Dad's Red Letter Sweater

Rate: 29 Flag
 dad & me

Theoretically, I discovered that my father was human when he died. I was four, and Death was a vague notion, if that. In 1957, not even a pet had died. 


     One day he was smiling and lifting me off the linoleum tiles, twirling me in the air with the strength and safety of his arms imprinting my dotted swiss dress and my mind, a mold of utter perfection. The next day my mother was crying, and I didn’t know why. The puzzle pieces would fall into place over days, weeks, years, decades, a half-century.


     He was electrocuted on his job as a utility repairman. Did he get distracted? Have a lapse in judgment? Simply slip? 


     I never learned of any character flaws from the stories that materialized over all these years. He loved practical jokes, and he defended his sister Anna Mae against bullies. He was a Boy Scout who shined shoes during WWII to donate proceeds to our troops. He was a star athlete, a man with a sense of duty to his country and his family. He loved my shy, artistic mother and he loved my sister and me.


     Years later, when I was an adult and my grandmother was prone to revisiting her memories (when my grandfather finally allowed his son to be spoken of), she wondered out loud and often. Had there been a hole in his glove? Was it because he only had one kidney? Answers she never had, and never would. 


     I now help my mother go through her life’s belongings as she and my stepfather prepare to move into a retirement village. She too is ready to talk, and she slides into a girlish cadence as she describes how she met my dad. I can see that he is forever twenty-six, with no flaws. She pulls a heavy woolen sweater from the cedar chest, one of the few items not already hauled off to Good Will. 


     “This was Bobby’s letter sweater. Do you want it?”


     I hold it up; it is a nice claret red with a big grey “S” on the front. For Susquehanna High School. Or for Sharon. It has no moth holes. It too is flawless.


     I accept it and refold to take home with me. Today I put it on, slip my arms through where his arms once were. Bobby’s. Daddy’s.


     It will be nice to wear in October.



Dad's letter sweater 


letter sweater



me & dad & mom



fathers day card 1957 


Related post - Remembering Sheri @1953-1957


Related post - Harvesting October Memories 







Copyright 2011 Sharon Watts


photos and card property of Sharon Watts 



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That sweater is such a wonderful gift--the reminder of a father whose image will remain pristine. Thirty years ago, my best friend's mother, who was better to me than my own, knitted me a gorgeous cable sweater and I wore it for years and kept it even after I became too heavy to wear it. Last year, I gave it to my same best friend, a tiny little lady. She said that the sweater her mother had knit for her had worn out. She wept at the gesture of the regift and it was so sweet to see that the sweater her mother knit for someone else fit.
perfectly written. all the right details, just the right amount of them, sparse and ringing, no woe-is-me. i have a feeling that sweater will be keeping you warm, sharon. great work here.
i am sad for your loss, that continues to gape, and glad that your mother is moving forward and making such good choices. the sweater is a treasure, but you will never be as burly as he was!
How sad to lose your father when he was so young. I love that you have his sweater to remind you of the great man he was!
Congratulations on the EP!
Your two concluding paragraphs are powerful. I have several items from my dad's wardrobe, and he was one who took meticulous care of his clothes. They are mostly winter clothes. I wear them regularly: two sweaters, a winter jacket, gloves--just about the time you mention, October. A significance to that, I'd say.
I loved this sharon and the pics are to die for.
Congrats on the EP
That must have been so hard -- losing him suddenly, and so young. I hope you do enjoy wearing the sweater. I know you'll find a way to make it look fashionable.
"S" for Sharon. Perfect...as is this.
I'm very touched by this, Sharon. The picture of your mom and dad is a beautiful one that will keep him forever young in your mind. I can imagine your wearing his red sweater and feeling a different kind of connection to him in its embracing warmth.
Words can't do this fine piece justice - I'd give you one of Linda's hugs if she'd lend me one.
Wrapping oneself in a memory can warm the heart and wet the eyes.
May October sweater weather bring you happiness. Beautiful piece.
I can't think of better gifts - the sweater, with its memories of your dad, and your talent, artistic and with words. Your mom had a hand in both. You do them proud, Sharon.
It must have been near impossible to resist dwelling on the speculation and possibilities dirndl. That you managed to come of age and blossom as a talented and aware young woman perhaps indicates that some good genetic stock was passed along. And now it's the sweater. Charming and touching memento, and it appeals to my practical side too. Elegantly written as always.
Miguela ~ Love your sweater story too! The best kind of regifting :)

Candace ~ I wrote this in about 15 minutes, off the cuff (no pun intended :) so your comment is extremely gratifying.

dianaani ~ loss forms us, doesn't it? I am not a burly-girly :)

Susie ~ thanks, and I am glad to have something to wear of his, practical and sentimental recycler that I am.

Jerry ~ I think my mom was the meticulous caretaker of clothing, but it does warm us in many ways, wearing our father's sweaters, doesn't it? Thank you.

Linda ~ thanks, and my mother the archivist is the reason the pics were so easy to access. Tho the torch has been passed :)

toritto ~ forever young indeed! Thank you.

Bell ~ Oh, I'll try! I am sure it will be paired with Levis and Converse.

OESheepdog ~ I'll take that "wow"--is it part of a bow wow?

Mimetalker ~ thank you, I always liked that letter "S":)

Fusun ~ thanks so much. I did feel it already for a moment, today.

Luminous Muse ~ I'm sure she'd give you an extra :) I read yours before it ever occurred to me to answer this OC. Talk about a hard act to follow! Thanks for your gracious comment.

Leon ~ so true!

Mary ~ thanks for visiting and your lovely comment.

Matt ~ They have always been proud of me. I was so lucky. I think it buffered me a lot in life. Thanks for this generous observation.

Abrawang ~ Any awareness I have incubated a very long time! But the sprouts are starting to bear some fruit. (I think I just mixed a metaphor or two). Thanks for all your appreciation of my efforts.
A moving, heartbreaking piece (as was the linked-to entry), Sharon. That's incredible, though, that you now have his letter sweater, and in perfect condition too. What a priceless memento.
Sharon, this was so touching. Congrats on the EP. What a treasure that sweater is. May it keep you warm with your father's arms around you.
Simply beautiful.
V.A. ~ glad you enjoyed and went to the other link. Both of these posts came directly from visits back to my mom & stepfather, which is happening more than the normal once or twice a year. I always discover things that take me down memory lane.

trilogy ~ what a sweet, caring comment!

Stim ~ thank you Stim.
Sharon, I remember reading the other story on your Dad... with the newspaper clipping pictured.

Wow. This is an absolutely beautiful piece about re-connecting. I can hear your Mum's girlish cadence. Stunning photo too.
Yes. For Sharon. This is so hard, all those ghost years. And so sweet there at the end.

Your grandmother's thought ("Was it because he only had one kidney?") reveals the pain of loss: it's so illogical, so funny. And yet, facing the mystery of the searing and inexplicable, we clutch at any stray idea that might make it make sense.

Be warm in the autumn.
Scarlett ~ glad you enjoyed, and yes, when she slips into that tone it gives me goosebumps, like I am privy to something only a time machine would make possible.

Pilgrim ~ you're right...I never "got" the kidney reference, but she kept wondering. I just listened, because she needed an audience after all those years that my grandfather wouldn't allow it. Thanks for reading and commenting.
Sharon: Perfect. Not a wasted word. The mystery of his death no doubt will linger; I can't help but feel, though, that at some essential level, a father -- especially but not only after he's gone -- will always be a mystery to a son or daughter. And that brings me round to the thought that writing about him can be, as your post demonstrates, a bittersweet but comforting experience for others.
He was a major hunk, and he has a lovely face, as does your mother. So sad, and yet he will remain forever beautiful and perfect, in memory . It is very hard when questions will never seem to have an answer. Very well written, Sharon.
Jeremiah ~ thank you for your kind comments. I always feel that diving into personal memories and writing about them is primarily for me, so it is very rewarding when they touch others . I guess we're all in this thing together :)

fernsy ~ Thank you: yes, a hunk! The questions don't haunt me, not really. You learn to accept and assimilate and move on, somehow working with it all.
Perfect. Just like the sweater. ~r
This was so tender and heartbreaking. I'm sorry you didn't get to know your father better - but I'm glad you have his sweater, especially because you also have pictures of him wearing it. And above all I'm glad you have the recollections of your mother and grandmother to give you a notion of who your father was.
Hi Sharon, I only recently returned here, and I remember you but not anything about your dad. 4 years old is a bad time to lose your dad to such an accident. But 5 or 7 might have been more scarring. What I found amazing here is how no one talked to you until everyone seemed to open up, and I wonder if you feel, with the gift of your dad's flawless shirt, if you have memories or if you only know what you are told. I'm so glad you were given stories finally.

I am thinking about being 4, my kids at that age, and they surely get it when things are sad at that age, but are also easily distracted with other matters too. I hope that was the case for you. A tragedy, without a certainty. R
Well, I'm sorry my earlier comment disappeared...or I'm losing my mind...either is possible. : )
I really was touched by this, dirndl. I'm so glad you have the letter sweater.
I was young when my father died suddenly. It's a treasure hunt to learn even bits and pieces of who they were, and those pieces often seem to come from the strangest places...for me, anyway.
jramelle ~ thank you, a bit late! Feeling pretty Pollyanna-ish around here myself, lately :) Dust is flying and my mask is MIA.

Joan ~ :) thanks

Alysa ~ stories, now, and also a few genuine memories. Thanks for reading.

Wendy ~ Good to have you back! No, I was not easily distracted from the events...but I remember things and they are happy memories. No one every effused, but things came to surface. It all was positive.

Just Thinking ~ So you know what it's like. I think the clothing means a lot because I (you too) were so involved with clothing in our art schooling. Objects become relics, infused with meaning. Thanks for commenting, and trying again if one went missing :)
So sweet. So rich and tender. I love this piece.