Sunday, October 9, 2011

September 7, 2011 Leo's clothes

Two years ago, I packed Leo’s suits, ties, shirts and casual clothes in containers with moth balls. The idea was to make sure insects would not feast and the clothes would be ready for his return.

It is clear now, that Leo will not be returning. I spoke to him about what to do with his belongings here. He told me, they belong to us, so anything I decide will be ok. He asked me not to give away his favorite off-white jacket nor his treasured metal detector.

A few weeks ago, I donated a dozen pairs of his shoes to a Japanese Tsunami charity. I held back his slippers and four pairs of his most worn (and loved) shoes.

This weekend, I decided it was time to let his clothing go. I spoke with a friend who mentioned the LDS charity van was in Newport Beach this week. For the first time since I packed, I went through the clothes, pulling out items I just cannot part with: his white terry robe, which he loved wearing after a long hot shower. T-shirts purchased during our American adventures. I remember he never felt comfortable wearing those shirts, unless they were ironed. Yes, I ironed them. It was a matter of “bella figura” meaning it was impossible for him to dress in wrinkled or just out of the dryer clothes.

I kept some of his favorite ties. The alligator belt, stamped “Made in Italy” I adopted as my own. On a hook in my closet, his casual tan weekend jacket still hangs, just where he left it in May 2009. I shake the dust off of it every so often. I’ve starting sleeping with the pajama top he used in the evenings when he was ready to relax. Perhaps it’s my imagination, but I can still smell him on it, even though it’s been laundered. His slippers are still in the closet.

It would have broken my heart to sell his things at a garage sale. Instead, I’ve decided to donate to charity.

Italians have an innate distrust of charities so I’m trying to do what Leo would like.

I received a call from a friend early in the week. She knew of a man, whose x-wife, in anger, had cut up all of his clothes. My friend thought Leo and this man were about the same height and weight. Yesterday morning, before leaving for work, I loaded my car with various bags and tubs of clothes.

When I arrived at 5:30 to drop off Leo’s clothes, I suddenly became overwhelmed. The instant I had unloaded the car, I tearfully headed home. Only 15 minutes had passed, when I called my friend and asked her to pull out Leo’s hiking boots. I can’t bear to give them away. He had so many wonderful adventures in those shoes.

Last night my phone rang. There was a man on the line…the man without clothes. He called to say thank you. He said the clothes were heaven-sent. The clothes fit him. But the style, I asked? Are they your style? Yes, he answered. I told him Leo would be glad then. I didn’t mention “bella figura” last night, but today I can smile and think, Leo would be pleased. The style was right.

Getty Museum, 2009

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