I found 13 belts hanging from hooks on the back of his closet door. But I knew there had to be more, and there were: a shopping bag tucked into the corner with about 15 more belts inside it. He had approximately 20 jackets and coats — he particularly liked those Eisenhower-style zippered windbreakers, which comprise about 25 percent of the collection, and also a Burberry raincoat with a zip-in lining that I remember he bought for like $400 in 1983, at the Short Hills Mall in New Jersey.
I kept the raincoat, though I have no need for it.
Perhaps 20 pair of brown, beige and khaki pants still hang on one side of his closet; my wife and I will tackle that this weekend. And on Saturday I stopped over there with our middle child and together we went through nearly 50 sweaters, pulling out a few keepers for ourselves, among them a hand-knit Irish fisherman’s sweater that dates back to 1981 and is just perfect for a cold Boone winter.
I’ve got a couple of those sweaters myself, now. They smell like him.
He like plaid shirts with button-down collars, and so there’s 40 of them, separate from the flannel shirts which number in the twenties. He liked cozy pants, so there’s a pile of pajama bottoms and drawstring joggers. I haven’t cleared enough out from this closet to get a good read on the shoes, but I can already see that there are at least four iterations of the same brown slip-ons and five sets of tennis shoes that he wore for pickleball.
Fourteen pair of reading glasses. Nine boxes of Band-Aids on the bathroom counter, with nine more in the cabinets below. Six backscratchers in and around his chair. Socks, black and white, beyond number, and a bureau drawer stuffed with underwear that we estimated to be about 100 pair, but my mother said was more like 150 when she emptied it out.
There’s so much more. With my father, there was always so much more.
In the kitchen, I’ve already found four boxes of ice cream cones and thrown out eight bags of expired chocolate chip cookies, the good kind. The hall closet, where I found two pair of nearly identical hiking boots, still has rows of jackets, gloves and hats. His dresser still overflows with T-shirts and long johns.
And we haven’t even started on his summer stuff yet.