The Weather

Dad’s Hat

A couple of winters ago, my father arrived home from his place of work with a package, terribly excited. Abandoning the usual decorum, he burst through the door and made straight for the kitchen table, his wet boots leaving black kisses on the clean floor, and he laid the long box on the table with trembling hands. He tried to call out but his voice caught at some crossing in his throat and whatever he meant was lost in the mumbles. Like a hurried prayer he recited my name in almost a whisper, beckoning feebly to draw me near. He pointed at the box, glanced at me and tried to punt a knowing laugh in my direction, as if to say, “Look here, at last, it has come,” but at the time I didn’t understand and heard only wheezing and saw that in his eyes were tears. Not the sorrowful tears of a sad, cowed man, but the conquering tears of one whose arduous journey is nearly at an end.

A hat is not what I would have called the contents of the box that was opened that evening, but that is how my father referred to it and I was raised to honor all credos—even should they fly against appearances and commonsense—as long as nobody got hurt. You see, we are believers, my father and I, and we believe in the power of belief, above all.

As an example, allow me to cite myself, a son who believes in his father—an eccentric man, with liberal ideas about hats, who is frequently distracted and ineffectual in his place of work. Yet my father’s belief in that ridiculous thing he wears on his head is exemplary of the kind of belief I believe in, and it is this tendency of my father—to believe in something intensely—which is the reason I believe in him so intensely myself. I do not agree with his sporting the so-called hat around when so many see only its constituents—the turf, the grass, the milk, and the rocky outcrops, the shears and the press and the boiling water trickling down his nose—not when it has nearly cost him his job, the love of my stepmother and the two children they brought together into the world so long ago already. But I have known him long enough myself now to observe the value of the fit. And I believe it flatters him.

Seth Blake is a writer from New Hampshire.