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All the good times were in Sweet Al’s suitcase

Al and I just came back from California and, if you remember, in one of my last articles, I wrote, “Al hit every garage sale in Northern California.”

The story goes on.

Getting ready to leave Pagosa for this California excursion, where we would dine with a high-profile speaker flown in from Washington D.C., Al pulled out a blue pinstripe suit which he wore twenty-six years before.

He wore the suit when he walked our oldest daughter down the aisle in an old quaint church. Cricket was beautiful that day and Al was so proud. The same year, in the same suit, he stood in the Old Town Gazebo of Albuquerque and gave away our other daughter, Allison, to our then new son-in-law, Al Wylie. Those were proud moments for all of us.

Al tried on his beautiful suit, and to his amazement it still fit perfectly after all those years. Still in style and a good cleaning would make it like new. He wore it the night of the big gala in California and told everyone it was his wedding suit, and he would wear it to give away our youngest daughter some day.

I laughed, but I meant it when I told our daughter, Cricket, the night of the gala, “I will bury your dad in that suit. He has had some good times, a lot of fun and fond memories in it.”

“Yes,” she responded, “Daddy looks so handsome tonight. I am so proud of him.”

“Me too! Well,” I said, “The new tooth I made for him looks pretty good, too.”

The Saturday morning before the gala, Al hit the garage sales and came home beaming. He had purchased a brand new large suitcase for $2. He was happy that people were giving everything away and he came home with screws, a stud finder, a can of Bondo, wax and other car things, a huge drill set, two pairs of tennis shoes to add to the twenty in his closet, and everything else you could imagine.

I was nipping at him all the way but he would not let his excitement be dashed by practicality, like getting on the plane with all that stuff or not needing another pair of tennis shoes.

“I have a new suitcase, and everything will fit just fine,” he maintained.

He visited the neighbors and the man was plowing out a forest of blackberry bushes which had taken over his property. He gladly gave Al all he wanted. Al put them in water and kept them alive, with hopes of having blackberry bushes in Pagosa.

He picked up a new Hawaiian shirt to add to his collection of fifty. I don’t know about Al and his fetish for Hawaiian shirts and tennis shoes.

Al flew home a few days earlier than I did. He had business in Albuquerque. He arrived, picked up his truck at the airport, threw his suitcases in the back and gassed up. Within five minutes of leaving the truck, his new suitcase was gone. They left the others. All his garage sale finds, blackberries, his new Hawaiian shirt and his wedding suit were gone.

Al still contends someone is wearing his beautiful blue wedding suit; and they will be planting his blackberry bushes in their yard; and eating his blackberries next year. He also believes they are probably riding around in their newly-waxed lowrider car with his Bondo on their fender.

Interestingly, the people who took Al’s suitcase got nothing, just a bunch of garage sale items. For Al, that new suitcase was full of fond memories. All of his good times were in that suitcase.

Al was heartsick and couldn’t let it go.

“They could call me; my name tag from the banquet was on my suit. They know who I am. My hunting magazines have my name and address on them. I had my name on the outside of the suitcase.”

“Al, I hate to tell you, but they are not looking for you. Let it go, they are not going to call you. Your things are in the bottom of some dumpster in Albuquerque or some man by the name of Al is wearing your blue suit.”

“Laugh at my expense if you have to.” Al pouted.

“I should be the one upset. I was going to bury you in that suit; it meant so much to you. Don’t even think of leaving me now. You don’t have a thing to wear.”

“I’m not planning on going anywhere.” Al reassured me.

“I know, but somehow wearing a Hawaiian shirt and tennis shoes doesn’t seem quite appropriate for a funeral unless, of course, we turn it into a luau and celebration.”

Final brushstroke: Go with the flow; don’t carry all your good times in your suitcase. Life is too short.

Artist’s quote

“I am willing to put myself through anything; temporary pain or discomfort means nothing to me as long as I can see that the experience will take me to a new level.” — Diana Nyad, author, journalist and world record long-distance swimmer.

Reader’s comments

I love to hear your comments and I am sure others will to. There is nothing like being back in Pagosa. Send your comments to’bettyslade@centurytel.net. An upcoming book-signing event is coming soon. Two years in the works, “The Mysterious Life of Mary Magdalene” is soon to be released. Watch for details.

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