Author’s Note: Following is a fictional story the I wrote in September of 2012. At the time I was writing for an old blog of mine that found its way to the ever popular Neglected Blog Heaven. The story, while fictional for the most part, does have some truthful influence in it. For example, my wife really did fail to see my need for another hat. I really do have a small glass heart that she gave me when she first told me she loved me. I really do drive her nuts quite often. The hat in the pictures here really is my hat and the culprit in the story. Last but not least, my eyes really do light up when I get home from one of my adventures and see her.
Yes, this tale is lightly outdoor related with a lot of love story thrown in for good measure. I’m not a great writer, but of the stories I’ve written, this is one of my favorite and I wanted to share it here on The 8wt Fiasco. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
The elderly lady stepped up to the coffin and lovingly looked at the shell that was once her husband. She knew that he was no longer here, but she wanted some time alone with “him” before the girls and rest of the family arrived. She smiled at how peaceful he looked, laying there in his suit and with his worn bible in his hands. She peered over the top of her glasses at the items decorating the casket and area close to it; lots of pictures, her husband’s favorite wool coat, the longbow that he made out in his wood shop three winters ago, a leather quiver full of arrows that he had also made and there, on top of the casket, was that damn hat.
The widow smiled to herself as she reached up and took the hat from its place. Her mind suddenly filled with memories of her husband and she couldn’t help but to feel the heartbreak of losing him ease a little bit. She remembered the day he said he wanted that hat, forty years ago. The fool had enough hats to start his own store, but there he was wanting another one.
“Honey, this hat will be THE hat. It’ll end my search for the perfect hat, I’m telling ya!” he had said.
“What about that hat hanging on the coat rack in the hallway?” she replied.
Her husband went on and on about how the hat in the breezeway wasn’t shaped right, didn’t fit right, didn’t look right, and blah, blah, blah. She finally had given in and told him to order the hat he wanted, just to shut him up. The day it came, he was like a kid on Christmas. She just rolled her eyes as he jokingly asked if he could wear it to bed.
“You’ll understand someday baby.” he had assured her with a boyish smile.
Now, forty years later, she was holding that stupid hat knowing she would never again see her husband walk in the cottage door wearing it while his eyes lit up just seeing her. Oh how she loved that about him. It never mattered if he had been gone for two weeks on a hunting trip or just a half hour walk looking for blueberries. He was always delighted to see the love of his life.
The old lady ran her wrinkled, soft fingers along the brim of the hat. The worn felt hat was full of character. There were stains and blemishes that held stories of her husband’s life. He wore the damn thing everywhere, especially on his bowhunting trips. She recognized one particularly dark stain on the crown of the hat, where her husband had carelessly removed his hat in the middle of quartering a moose. His hands were covered in the animal’s blood at the time and the stain was a reminder of that hunt, as well as the hour the widow had spent trying to wash the stain out of the hat for her husband upon his return.
She glanced up at the pictures that her daughters had used to decorate the table near the casket. There were lots of family pictures, pictures of just the two of them, vacation pictures, pictures of him with a few of his closest friends, and quite a few pictures of him bowhunting or fly fishing. The lady noticed two things in every one of the pictures; his wonderful smile and he was wearing that damn hat. The hat was as much a part of him as that charming smile, she thought.
“Mam?” came a voice from behind her. It was the young secretary from the funeral home.
“I’m sorry to interrupt,” the secretary continued, “but a few weeks ago, your husband came in and dropped this off.” She handed the widow a small box that had her name on it. “He asked that when his funeral day came, that I give it to you. Again, I’m sorry to interrupt and my sympathies over your loss. He was such a nice man. I’ll leave you alone.”
The elderly lady gave a polite but forced smile and managed a soft thank you as the secretary walked out of the room. She still had the hat in one hand, so she laid it back down on top of the casket and opened the box. Her eyes filled with tears as she pulled out a red glass heart. Also in the box was a note in her husband’s hand writing and she clutched the glass heart close to her chest as she read…
If you are reading this, then my time here on earth is through and I am dancing with Jesus. As I have always said, please do not cry but rather rejoice!
Enclosed in this box you will find “your heart”. I hope you will see, that while it may have a chip or two, that I did indeed guard it safely and treasure it above all else. Loving you was the greatest joy I ever had in life and I anxiously await your arrival here in heaven. Until then, know that I will be missing you. Please give the girls my love.
Yours forever and always, no matter what,
At this the widow began to sob, but soon regained her composure. She pulled a tissue from her pants pocket and wiped the tears away best she could. Then she walked over to the casket and gently placed the glass heart in the pocket of her husband’s suit coat.
“You old poop. My heart is yours forever.”
With that she took the old hat from the top of the casket, brought it to her nose and inhaled deeply, smelling her husband one last time. Then she carefully slid the hat inside the coffin beside him. That damn hat is part of him and that’s where it belongs, she thought.
“You were right my love. I understand now.” she said out loud.
And with that she gently kissed her husband’s still lips and turned to go let her daughters in. It was time for her and her family to rejoice.