Beige and made of wool, the overcoat is ordinary in every respect but one.
It belonged to my father.
Jack Morgan would have turned 89 on Jan. 8. He’s been dead half my life.
Though far from a man of means, “Big and Friendly,” as he was commonly known, enjoyed playing the part. He drove a new Cadillac every year and kept his folding money in a clip.
The neon sign on his furniture store, I’m told, was the largest between St. Louis and Memphis. With its ornate dips and turns, his penmanship was straight out of another century.
He liked his soup as hot as lava and peppered everything but dessert. My dad cursed the cold weather, phone solicitors and all that stood between the St. Louis Cardinals and victory.
Every one of his children spent time slow-dancing on his shoes. They learned the importance of a firm handshake and making people feel good.
Jack also had a way with words, particularly blunt ones.
He waited until I was 19 to offer advice on sex. Then, on the eve of one of my dates, he dropped this bomb: “Son, if she puts the moves on you, just slip a raincoat on.”
He met my fiancee about a year before I got married. At a restaurant, he broke the ice with her and her sister with “Do you girls smoke?”
When the crow’s feet dig in and the hairline retreats, it’s common for men to feel the tug of mortality. What usually follows is an epiphany that they’ve become their father.
That would be fine by me.