Thank You for Your Service

My sister works for the VA, so I’ve become accustomed to thanking members of the military for their service when I see them. Just a quick word or two at the grocery store or bank usually does the trick. My reward? A return “thank you” or a small smile. Telling these folks thank you is the least I can do, but I know that my words don’t make up for some of the sacrifices they have made.

And still, I say them. Because it’s important to tell people that you appreciate their time and energy. That the job, though thankless at times, means something to you. The same goes for parents and caregivers. And in my case, my coat.

Screech. What? My coat? Yes.

Twenty years ago, I bought a down-filled coat from Eddie Bauer. On sale, it cost me $200, which at the time, felt like a fortune. We’d just gotten married and still had a few years to go in graduate school. The budget, tightened by me, didn’t have an extra $200, but winter and I don’t mix. And I knew I’d wear that coat for as long as it would hold up.

It arrived in the mail, stuffed into a cardboard box. When I opened the box, the coat relaxed, unfolded, and invited me to wrap myself in it. A sweet warmth enveloped me, and staying warm in the winter never seemed easier. The coat accompanied me through the first winter easily, and then the second winter, I became pregnant—with twins. The coat didn’t blink: it stretched across my burgeoning belly for weeks, almost able to cover even the enormous 37 week, 6 day bump on the day the girls were born. Cats have found nap hideaways in the coat; kids have worn it when they’re chilly at home in the mornings. And the pockets! Because of them, the need to carry a purse didn’t exist.

It feels wrong to hang up a coat that I’ve worn for twenty years, especially when it still has life left in it. So I plan to donate it as soon as possible. But that coat has witnessed more of my life than some of my friends: the move to the Dayton area, the birth and growth of each of the kids, student stories at Sinclair, writing conferences in and about Ohio, countless trips to the grocery store, and more. Oh, the stories it could tell, if only it could talk.

Somehow, writing a simple blog post about it seemed just about right.

Image of girl in coat by Free-Photos at

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