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Friday, August 17, 2012

What To Give An Eighty Year Old Man


I was cleaning out my chest of drawers the other day and I came upon a pair of pajamas, still in their package. I don’t wear pajamas. Mrs. Chatterbox and I had purchased these as a Christmas present for my dad. He passed away unexpectedly five years ago. Mom was finally cleaning out his things and had been about to donate the PJs to the Goodwill when I grabbed them as a memento.


My parents seldom celebrated special events or holidays, and they hadn’t exchanged gifts in years. Dad had long since given up buying anything for Mom, who was as difficult to please as he was easy. But Mom and Dad received copious gifts after moving to Portland to be near us in their so-called golden years because Mrs. Chatterbox is an ardent gift giver.


Still, Dad was difficult to buy gifts for, not that he was difficult to please; he loved everything. A jar of apricot jam, a CD of Patsy Cline’s greatest hits or a vintage aviation jacket; he was as excited as a bear handed a picnic basket. It became a challenge to find gifts he wanted or could use. Eventually, we ran out of ideas. The year we bought Dad pajamas he was in desperate need of new ones. His current PJs had been reduced to threads and Mom didn’t shop much anymore. It’s a well-known fact that men don’t buy pajamas for themselves, especially eighty year old guys.


So Mrs. C. and I went to Macy’s and bought him a new pair. On Christmas morning his face lit up when he opened the package, careful not to rip the paper or damage the bows. “Just what I wanted,” he’d exclaimed, as if receiving a vintage ’68 Mustang GT 390 Fastback.


Weeks passed and I finally got around to asking Dad if he was enjoying his new pajamas.


“I sure am,” he said. “They’re wonderful.”


But one evening I dropped by their apartment unexpectedly (it was only 6:45 and not even dark outside) and caught Dad in his old PJs. “Why aren’t you wearing your new pajamas?” I asked.


He hemmed and hawed for a moment before admitting, “I’m saving the new ones for a special occasion.”


I couldn’t hold back my laughter. Exactly what sort of special pajama-related occasion was my eighty year old father waiting for? Did my shy dad have a secret fantasy? Was he expecting a call from Hugh Hefner inviting him to the Playboy Mansion?


Dad never wore the pajamas we bought for him. Mom says he took them out of his drawer and looked at them occasionally, but he always claimed they were too good for everyday use. Now, when I think of Dad I imagine him wearing them in heaven. No longer shy, he’s looking sharp in a playboy mansion in the sky.


43 comments:

  1. What a sweet, loving story. I'm sure he is wearing those new pajamas in heaven, and enjoying every minute in them.

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  2. That really is a very sweet story (can one dude say that to another dude? Hey, at least I didn't write 'adorable.' Or 'precious.').
    Your parents sound exactly like Mrs. Penwasser and I. I've stopped buying her gifts because she is impossible to please. Plus, she has a credit card and get whatever she wants, anyway.
    As far as I'm concerned...? You could probably give me a dog turd as long as it was gift-wrapped.
    I'd prefer a new set of PJ's though.

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  3. Maybe he was saving the special pajamas for Valentine's Day or some romantic holiday like that. My dad was always hard to shop for like that too. Usually we'd just end up getting him a John Wayne movie or something like that; he didn't wear pajamas.

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  4. What a fun story - I love that he thought the pajamas were too special for just ANY night :)

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  5. Your PJ's were your Dad's Good Towels!

    YOu are right, I have never bought my own PJ's. Last year I did buy socks...there is a first for everything.

    As usual, very nice post!

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    1. What a lovely story, well apart from the thought of Hugh Hefner. I'll try not to connect him and your Dad. ;)

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  6. I think Joeh has a point about them being your dad's good towels. He considered them special therefore the old ones were good enough for everyday use. Really a sweet story.

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  7. Not sure whether to laugh out loud or cry, so I think I'll do both! ;)

    Cleaning out my Mum's house now....she's 101 and recently moved to a facility....and I can't believe the sad number of things I found that she was *waiting* to use......

    Life's short. Wear the new jammies now!

    Have a wonderful weekend! And thanks for this share!

    ~Fox

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  8. Great story! I love hearing about others families as they make us the unique people we are. Thanks for sharing yours.

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  9. I wish that would work for my father. He sleeps naked though. I'd love to be able to buy him something affordable (like a pair of pajamas). However, I am paying for the dog grooming when I go and visit next week. They're supposed to squeeze Levi's anal glands out too. I googled that and apparently, anal glands are very smelly and need to be cleaned regularly. I bet it's never been done for that poor dog.

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  10. Awww.....what a great story! I love that you are keeping the pajamas as a memento!

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  11. Ooohhhh, I love that story. How sweet.

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  12. What a great post. You know my father was the same way. Wear things until they were threadbare and then wear them some more. I think it was the depression that made them think that way. Don't know.

    Have a terrific day and weekend. :)

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  13. Aww what a sweet thought. My Dad passed away just ten days before his birthday so he never got to see the gold tie clip my ex and I bought for him. My ex began wearing Dad's tie clip shortly afterward and quite likely still does. I'm sure he'll pass it along to one of our sons one day.

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  14. While the story was super sweet and very touching at it's core, the idea of saving pajamas for a special occasion caught me off guard and gave me a case of the giggles. I could so have seen my farmer great grandfather saying such a comical thing. Priceless.

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  15. LOL and so cute! They gave him much pleasure, just by being there, unlike so many things "saved for good" that people don't even remember they have.

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  16. Awes, what a lovely story. It's too bad he never got to wear them, but nice of him to fib and say they're awesome! :) Have a great weekend!

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  17. Well, as they say, "There's nothing like an old shoe" so I guess the same with pajamas.
    Good story. I think many eighty year olds would have some similar story.

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  18. I believe the depression-era generation has a lot of items "for special occasions." The good towels, the special dishes, the better shoes, the fancy jewelry, and - in case of your Dad - the special pajamas.

    This story made me smile. :-)

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  19. There are days as I now age where I think I must use up all this old stuff before I die and other days when I grab the best and the new and realize the time is NOW to spoil myself. We are odd cratures as we age.

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  20. My dad refused to buy socks. Or let my mom buy them, even on sale. They were too expensive, he said. As if they were going to return to his childhood prices in the future. I suppose he would have eventually let his feet go bare inside the shoes, and worn the sock tops over his ankles in public.

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  21. My hubby doesn't wear PJs, but he has stacks of sweaters, shirts, pants, socks, and underwear that I've given him for Christmas and he hasn't worn yet. He prefers the stuff that looks a bit worn. Aargh.

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  22. Oops, I meant to add that I love the story about your dad.

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  23. It's just too hot for pajamas where I live so I haven't had any for years. No, wait. I think there are a couple of raggedy old pajama bottoms around somewhere if SWMBO hasn't tossed them yet. Great story about your dad, though

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  24. That's so sweet, I'll bet he really is wearing his new pajamas in heaven!

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  25. Many of us enjoy wearing things that are well worn and comfy. Perhaps his sixth sense told him he didn't have enough time to break them in.

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  26. That's hilarious, but I know what he means. My current wallet is falling to bits, and I have a brand new one waiting. I just can't bring myself to transfer everything over.

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  27. This is a wonderful story and a lesson to us all... I think... that, when it comes to pajamas, every day is a special occasion. (That must be one classy pair of PJs!)

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  28. I think we can all learn from this story..

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  29. Life is too short . . .always wear the PJs . . . use the good towels . . . sip your water in a champagne glass . . . enjoy whatever gives you pleasure! You Dad sounds like a real sweetie! You might be surprised what he considered a "special day!" Eighty year old men rock too!

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  30. Well, darn, I was all ready to type a snarky comment, but this is such a sweet story, I want to hug your dad, wherever he is, and tell him I understand how he was comfy wearing the old pajamas.

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  31. I am learning that the special occasions are now, enjoy life as it comes and open the packages right away.

    Excellent post and like you I am sure your Dad is smiling while sitting back in his comfy new PJ's

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  32. Sweet story. Amusing and tender.

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  33. I'm sure he is looking super-sharp in his new pj's up there! My mom did this too--saved things for "that special day" that never came. I try so hard not to do this now.

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  34. A heart-warming story. Your dad was clearly a thoroughly decent human being.

    I already see that "saving them for best" trait within me. I must start trying to live more for the moment.

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  35. what a sweet story- now I know where you get a lot of your endearing qualities-or what I observe from Etherland

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  36. How sweet! I'm glad you kept them. :)
    Also, a reminder to not save things for later.
    He sounds like a wonderful guy!

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  37. Awww, this is so sweet! I guess you're right. He's wearing those PJ's now in heaven as that special day and place to wear them has come.

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