When I was still in high school, I found this great coat at a thrift shop. It was less than $20 and its heavy wool kept me toasty in the cold Wisconsin winters.
I loved this coat--it had pockets for my stuff, it matched everything, and I could add pins and whatnot to express myself fully.
At one point my grandmother gave me an angel pin. I was in a questioning phase and yet very much a good girl...so the angel went on lapel. But I found a devil for the other side. It was a Taz pin, so yeah, my edge had cute limits.
When I moved to Houston, my beloved coat came with me. Never mind that we rarely even saw freezing temperatures, much less anything requiring six pounds of layered wool. Still, I held on through the moves of life changes.
Until this morning, I hadn't seen my coat for a few years. It turned up in my sons' closet, covered in dust.
The boys had been charged with getting rid of things they no longer use. The clothes and toys of younger years, mostly, and a few impulse buys. They finished their work while I went through my pockets. Note to self: You don't need to buy gloves for a few years...
I always knew that this was a Naval Academy coat. But I had never noticed the tag inside the inner chest pocket, listing the original owner's name and date of issue.
Oh, the internet is a dangerous thing. Within a minute I had found him. He enlisted, hoping to be the next Navy quarterback. Life took him on another path, and today he is a financial advisor in the Milwaukee area. Yes, I briefly considered contacting him to find out if he wanted the coat back. But he made the choice decades ago--I was just postponing my own decision.
Knowing his story gave the coat even more value. And yet. Do I value a coat by stuffing it at the back of my closet? Or by sending it out into the world?
I took a deep breath and asked a son to help me get it in a bag. We'll load our bags into my car and I'll drop them in a charity bin tomorrow. I don't know if someone will wear it, if it will get repurposed for crafting, or will just hang in another closet. That's ok.