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An Unexpected Treasure

Just the other day, to my surprise, I learned that I have been wearing a treasure every time I do my gardening.

My father came to Canada from France in the 70s for adventure and new opportunities. The eldest of three brothers, he was the first to leave home. My father tells me that my grandmother, in typical mother fashion, was very nervous for him. She imagined Canada as a snowy abyss, where her poor son would be alone and shivering. As a final present to him before his journey, she gave him a sweatshirt. It was not just any sweatshirt, but a glorious velour blue and red shirt with yellow piping. A classic, really.

He wore this sweatshirt on cold Canadian nights, and I imagine that he thought of his mother in France every time. As time went by, and it looked a bit used, he started wearing it only while gardening. I have countless memories of my father wearing this sweatshirt with high-cut shorts, covered in dirt, milling around the tulips and daffodils. In my mind, it became a part of him.

Before I left home for university, he told me he was going to throw it out. I begged him to give it to me to remember him by. Maybe it was the memory of the circumstances by which he received it that made him say yes.

A few months ago, my father asked if I wouldn’t mind helping him in his garden. I’m sure you can image what I decided to wear. When he saw me, he started laughing out loud.

“Did you know that my mom gave that to me just before coming to Canada?”

“No. You never told me that”, I replied.

“I would have never thought that one day, my Canadian daughter would be coming over to my house to help me garden wearing that same sweatshirt.”

I will have to save it now, to pass down to my son. I will have to tell him he can only wear it while gardening.