I keep an old, well worn, faded sweatshirt in my closet. Maroon with one of those old school white velvety iron on logos on it. Actually, it’s an Aggie sweatshirt. It’s not hanging out in there for the reason that I’ll wear it again someday (I doubt it would currently fit around my thigh), but because it’s a sweet reminder of times spent in the snow long ago with my brother.
As you may or may not know, I’m a transplanted Texan with some far reaching East Texas roots. My parents grew up here, my dad attended the University of North Texas and went on to Veterinary school at Texas A&M University (hence the Aggie sweatshirt…..we were well brainwashed….er….guided in our college choices even as kids). My mom attended Texas A&M during the first summer women were allowed to enroll. Anyhow, my brother was born here in Texas and as my dad’s career path developed and led to new opportunities, they moved to Washington state. Some ten years and change later, I was born outside Seattle. (If you’re still with me…hang in there….all that history to explain snow, ha!) For a period of time, before puberty, middle school, and high school struck, it was deemed cool by my brother to play with his sister. I have so many memories of huge snowflakes, big drifts, so tall I could barely see over them unless he picked me up! Endless snowmen were built, ones that lasted for days on end. Every winter we enjoyed so much playing in the cold. Mom would bundle us up in layers, hats and scarves to play until we were breathless and tired from giggling. Afterwards it was fireplace time and hot cocoa….but not that instant stuff. Homemade on the stove from milk, sugar, and pure Hershey’s powder. Still pretty much the only way I still make it today.
I’m not sure which year Matt got that sweatshirt as a Christmas present. I had to ask him while writing this how he even ended up with it. So funny, I have no recollection of a winter passing by without wearing it, from years where it swallowed me to years where I could barely peel it off my other layers without help from someone else. Once it became too small, it earned a place in my closet, and for a time on the wall in my home office under my Aggie diploma. My kiddo has worn it maybe a couple of times over the years, the softness can’t be beat, but its primary home remains in my closet, holding those sweet memories.
My brother and I have gone through degrees of closeness, as all siblings do I suppose. Lately, because of things we each have been through and trials we have faced, I feel a connection again to him not so far away from those days climbing snowdrifts. As Matt still lives in Washington state, he still enjoys many snowy winters and sends me pictures of the beautiful falling snow. Not a glance at one of those messages goes by, without me envisioning us together in that snow, me in that sweatshirt playing as kids do, before the un-cool-ness of playing with your baby sister struck. I guess why I love recalling those days is that they are filled to the brim with the sweetness of siblings, how we played together for hours upon hours and how my brother looked out for me. How there was no worry of tomorrow, or bills, or responsibility. Only fun. Only how much I adored him. Only the bond we had.
Oh thank you, old sweatshirt, for holding onto those memories. (And….Gig ‘Em!)