His name was George. I never met him, nor do I have the slightest idea as to how or when he died. But I know the color of his eyes, hair, and the way his closet smelled.
Sepia; not just brown, but sepia. That beautiful meeting place somewhere in between red and brown, named after the pigment derived from the ink sac of the cuttlefish, Sepia. George probably had brown on his license, but that wouldn’t have really done those peepers justice. In ancient Greco-Roman days, sepia ink was frequently used for writing. And with all the stories waiting to be written from what those eyes had seen, sepia couldn’t be more appropriate.
His hair was Colgate-smile white, not quite Santa Clause level, but damn near getting there. I imagine he had dark hair once upon a time, but as the years caressed his skin with wrinkles and gravity, his hair shed their mahogany tones into something even more pure, more angelic. I like to think George joked with his wife that his real color was just hidden beneath a layer of snow. She’d smile each time, despite hearing the same quip every few months. She deeply loved him, and if she’s alive, she still does.
His closet smelled like mothballs and rusted metal. He had a few dress shirts hanging, still ironed and waiting patiently in garment bags for his return. However, most of the items that remained of his wardrobe were tangled together in a pile on the floor. That’s the unnerving and morbid thing about estate sales, watching people pick apart a stranger’s life. We become vultures, hungry for a good deal, and in the process, leave a dead man’s clothing in a crumpled mess. I felt sick. George deserved someone to take two fucking seconds to hang his Tommy Bahama shirt back up.
And if that’s the smallest way I could show George some respect as I went through every intimate detail of his belongings, then damn, I was going to hang up the rest of his clothes. And as I began to do so, I picked up the quintessential “old man” cardigan and fell head over heels in love. For a mere $4, I gave his sweater a new home.
In a weird way, I feel that he could have been my grandfather in another lifetime. I’d start running towards him, six years old, sprinting as fast as my little legs could possibly manage. He’d pick me up, swing me around in his arms, and kiss my cheek. “My Ari, my Ari,” he’d sweetly coo, his breath smelling of peppermint sucking candies and not beer like my actual Grandfather’s had. George would have always had lint in his pockets and a knowing twinkle in those sepia-colored eyes. George would have loved me, and I would have loved him.
I never knew George, but now with his grey-patterned cardigan cradling my body, I will carry him with me.