Hats in My Memory part 4 – Unexpected, Versatile, Integrity



The third and final hat in this series ushers in the “unexpected.”  This hat is a Tilley all-weather, washable, floppy hat. According to Tilley’s website, Tilley’s are “designed and engineered for travel, so you are ready for the unexpected turn in the road ahead.” http://www.tilley.com/us_en/why-travel-clothing/  The Tilley wearer I love has many titles: husband, father, son, teacher, and grandpa.  This grandpa is known as “Papa” in our home.

Just as a Tilley proves to be an “all-in-one hat,” Papa is an all-in-one grandfather and father.  When we first met over 35 years ago, I quickly noticed his devotion to people.  I saw the way he loved his daughter and respected his parents. His eyes sparkled as we enthusiastically brainstormed new units of learning for students. It didn’t take long for me to I sense the kind of future partner he embodied: a helpmate, a good parent, a teacher. So, the marriage and parenting life began. Within a few years, we added two sons to our blended family of a soon-to-be teenage daughter and ourselves.  Subsequently, she blessed us with three grandchildren, a boy and two girls.

According to Tilley, “Travel is about seeing a new place, experiencing life from a different perspective, trying a local dish, making new friends, experiencing a random moment. Tilley’s are designed and engineered for travel, so you are ready for the unexpected turn in the road ahead.” By then the Tilley adventures were underway: mowing grass, visiting family, adventure upon adventure. The Tilley joined us along the way.

On the night before my husband’s 49th birthday, we received a call changing our lives in an unexpected way, one of many “unexpected turns in the road ahead.”  Our young granddaughters needed to move in with us for the time-being, joining their older brother, our two high school aged sons, and my recently widowed mother-in-law.  Days turned to weeks, months, and years.  Suddenly “Papa” became a household term, taking precedent over many of his other titles.

Papa’s traits transcended his title.  He slept in a chair holding anxious toddlers many nights, helped care for the little girls, and once again read bedtime stories.  He transformed a bedroom of ball players into a pastel chamber for princesses. Tears were dried. Tough lessons were learned. Parents and children alike grew through the tough unexpected winds of change.

Today, nearly fifteen years later, this Tilley-wearing Papa is still versatile. He wears the Tilley when mowing, building a chicken house, or planting a tree.  Papa patiently guides homework, folds laundry, and monitors the cleaning of rooms.  When the suitcase beckons for travel, the washed Tilley joins us. Papa loves travel.  Tattered road atlases reminisce events of long vacations and hold the dreams of travels yet to come.

Like the Tilley, Papa is dependable, functional, and ages gracefully.  He leads our children – now three adult children, nine grandchildren, and one great-grandchild — to love the Lord and develop inner strength. He inspires courage to do the right, try new things, love deeply and passionately. He is a handyman and teacher who still sings at the top of his lungs, tackles new projects and exudes tremendous love. Unexpected changes cause no animosity, but they do bring about versatility. My husband, Papa, is an example of utmost integrity through the good. The bad. The unexpected.

Three hats hang in my house, two more in my memory:  a tattered blue and white striped engineer’s hat, a wide-brimmed straw hat crumbling on the edges from years of wear, a billed John Deere cap spattered with oil, the uniform hat of a Kansas City policeman, and a floppy Tilley needing the washing machine.