“DAD! YOU CAN’T!” His youngest daughter nearly screamed when she saw what he was wearing.
“Why?” He asked looking bewildered at her.
“It’s at least thirty years old – as old as I am!”
“Older actually,” he responded. “In that picture of me holding your oldest brother the day we brought him home, I’m wearing this shirt.”
“He’s forty! NO, Dad. You can’t!”
“But I like it.”
“But…, but….,” she stammered. “I can see your hair through it!”
“You also see the hair on my chest when I’m not wearing it.”
“Well, that’s different. I expect to see it then. It’s so thin!
“It’s light and airy,” he responded.
“Because it’s gauze!”
“That’s why it keeps me cool.”
“Dad. You’re hopeless!”
“And you love me.”
“I love you, but not that shirt.”
“Do I love all the clothes you wear?”
“Of course you li…. DAD!! What are you saying about my clothes?!”
“I simply asked a question.”
“My clothes are fine,” she replied indignently. “At least nothing is threadbare!”
“I love you, Sweetheart. Can we go now?”
“Really?” She gasped. “You’re really….? You can’t!”
“Can’t what?”
“I’m not going with you if you wear that shirt out of this house.”
Her father calmly took off the shirt, dropped it on the floor, and walked out the door.
“DAD!” Celynthia shrieked. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” She called out as she rushed to the door.
“You said,” her father replied calmly. “You wouldn’t go if I wore that shirt, so I took it off.”
“They won’t let you in without a shirt!”
“I’ll just explain why I had to take the shirt off.”
“You are hopeless!” Celynthia stormed, then turned. “I’ll GET you a shirt! Just wait!” She hurried to his bedroom in the back of the house.
Her father stood in the yard and waited. He was in no hurry.
Soon, Celynthia flounced out of the house with a different shirt in her hand.
“Here! You can wear this one.”
“Hmmm…” Is all her father said as he eyed the shirt.
“Take it.”
“Are you sure it’s mine?”
“Who else has clothes in your closet?”
“Well….” he said slowly. “I don’t recognize it.”
“Of course you don’t. You haven’t warn it yet. I gave it to you last year for Ayyam-i-Ha. It’s still folded from the package. Put it on.” She held it out for him to take.
“You’re sure you gave it to me?” He gingerly took the shirt from her with two fingers, as if it was suspect.
“YES. Now, let’s go.”
“One more thing,” he said thoughtfully as he put it on and began to button the shirt.
“We haven’t hugged yet.
“Oh, Daddy.” She wrapped her arms around him, the shirt forgotten as familiar comfort and security enfolded her as he hugged her in return.
“As you get older,” he said as he kissed her the side of her face. “We have to learn new ways to play.”
“What?” She jerked back from her father and stared into his eyes, but didn’t let go.
“We can’t play tea party anymore,” he grinned at her. “I had to think of something else.”
“Oh, Daddy!” She hugged him again and shook her head in disbelief as she began to understand the game they had just played. “I love you soooo much!” She hugged him tighter as appreciation for his efforts grew.
“I love you too, Sweetie.” He softly caressed her back with his arms. “I love you so much.”

‘I’ve been loyal and faithful all my life.’ The thought came from back in the house, though no one could hear. ‘I’ve protectd him and adorned him. We’ve had a lot of good times together, and this is the treatment I get? What have I done wrong?’ The shirt lay on the floor and wondered.

“I’ll keep the shirt,” the father whispered into his daughter’s hair so softly she couldn’t hear. “For next time.” And smiled.

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