I’m not sure if I could fill his shoes but I wear my deceased grandfather’s shirt. I took it from his closet after he passed. I recognized it because he wore it so frequently, enough for relatives to chide him about it.
It was befitting for a man who mentioned he was a prince disguised as a pauper, who called a row home his palace. He sat often enough on the edge of the couch to warrant repetitive taping.
I would think he was poorer than I, who lived over the bridge in the New Jersey suburbs and attended a high school with Mercedes, BMWs, and LandRovers parked in the student lot.
He had a lot less material than his handful of grandkids he waited on hand and foot. He liked eating at diners, buying generic soda, and instructing my grandmother to ring twice before being picked up at the hairdresser (to retrieve the quarter from the pay phone).
He was poor enough to wear the shirt too often and rich enough to give to his kids and grandchildren more frequently. He would steal my father’s utility bills and pay them with light heart. He dressed himself in indigence so his family was endowed with riches.
I grabbed his shirt when he died without noticing the meaning of the tattered seams. It would otherwise find way to goodwill and bought for a few cents by a stranger who was bankrupt in understand its essence.
I now wear his classic shirt understanding the class it took to fill it. I am fortunate enough to wear his blue shirt but unsure I’ll ever be royal enough to fill his shoes.
He was a prince dressed as a pauper, rich in knowing pennies saved earned the expense of spending on something more important to him than himself.