Falling down. Getting up.

It’s just a sweater.

Wool, comfortable, classic.  But I never put it on without remembering how I received it as a gift almost three decades ago. The gift was highly practical and symbolic.

That sweltering graduation evening in May 1987, my colleague Anne presented me with the gift from the faculty at Benton Hall. I had announced my resignation from the high school I had founded ten years earlier. This would be the last graduation over which I would preside.  It was an emotional night.

I was preparing to move from Tennessee to Minnesota, a change of climes to which self-respecting Southerners shake their heads in disbelief of me leaving the only-good-place, the South. They pity anyone unfortunate enough to live in a state where winter is the dominant season. The poor louts who were born in Minnesota don’t know any better, but for a Native Son to willingly establish permanent residence so close to permafrost was beyond the Pale.

It has been a brutal winter on the northern prairie. The sweater has gotten lots of wear and has indeed done what was intended by the givers: kept me warm and wrapped me in memory. 


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