As I was digging through a box of Christmas decorations, I found it. It kind of blended in at first. The red hat against the red Rubbermaid box, next to the red garland and red and white stripped dish.
But it was too faded to be a decoration.
I pushed some stuff out of the way. As soon as my fingers touched it, I knew.
Mike’s “Nebraska Rifle” hat.
He bought that hat while visiting a friend from law school in the Cornhusker State. He wore the hell out of that hat, and 10 years later, it was faded and discolored and O-L-D looking. There was the stain on the back of the hat – from something getting spilled on it when it was left on the kitchen counter one time. There was a small tear on one side – from pulling it free from a barbed wire fence. The front of the hat showed signs of dried sweat – from wearing the hat to mow the yard. It’s a pretty nasty hat.
I sat in the basement, next to the Christmas box, holding the hat. He wore that hat a lot. All the time. He loved baseball caps, but this one… this one was one of his favorites. There were a lot of good times in this hat. Good times from way back.
I put the hat in the box and carried it upstairs.
“Ethan, guess what I found?” I called. “It’s one of Daddy’s favorite hats.”
“Can I have it?” he asked.
Ethan wore the hat around for a while over Thanksgiving break. (He looked so adorable in it!). He has slept with the hat every night since I found it. Every night he cuddles with the old stinky baseball hat and an old shirt – a few of the only things I have of Mike’s.
I’m not sure how it ended up in the Christmas stuff. Maybe the movers found it in the basement of the old house and just stuck it in a box. Maybe Mike stuck it in there for who-knows-what-reason.
But it’s home now. Home with Ethan.