Mama and Daddy tried to go to Georgia to visit our extended family at least once a year. After one visit, I noticed Daddy wearing a straw hat when he went outside. It looked vaguely familiar.
Daddy had always worn hats. Since he had not developed a bald spot, like his three brothers who didn't wear hats regularly, he speculated that his hats were the reason. The most flamboyant Daddy ever got was when he came home with a tweed driving cap. We teased him about coming home with a Corvette and a blond the next time. Mama was not amused.
So, Daddy wore hats, but typically, conservative hats befitting a professional man in administration. (Maybe sometime we'll chat about the time Daddy got his first pair of jeans.) What's Merv doing wearing a straw farmer's hat? Oh, that's where I'd seen that hat. I had a picture of Daddy and Granddaddy, who was wearing the same style of straw hat. My Granddaddy was a farmer and knew the value of a good hat in the hot Georgia sun. By design or default, Daddy was taking on an "outward and visible sign" of his roots.
If you've been a regular visitor, you may have picked up that I was a "Daddy's girl". I wear that title proudly. When Daddy died and we had the painful task of going through his things, I claimed the straw farmer's hat, among other treasures like his World War II diary, medals and the Bible he carried throughout the war. Daddy's hat sat on a shelf or hung on a hook on the backporch for several years, a gentle reminder of the two men who had most influenced my life. When Tom and I became yard people, it seemed like a good hat for me, too.
Recently, I've figured out it's not really about the hat. Wearing Daddy's hat while I'm working in the yard reminds me of Daddy working in his, being a good steward over what he had been given. It also reminds of the high expectations he had for me. Mostly, when I wear Daddy's hat, I feel protected from the cares of the world by Daddy's love for me.
Do you have tokens from folks you love? Tokens that bring comfort or strength? What are the tokens you may leave to the next generation?
Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life.