I walked this morning in one of my folding “slouch” hats. They don’t have hard brims. I can fold or roll them and stick them in a pocket if I’m in the shade, pull them out again when I need to.
This one I got at the Reds spring training in Sarasota almost 20 years ago. We were coming out of Jack Smith Stadium after a game, the first one where we saw a grounds crew drop their equipment as they rolled the infield after the 5th inning to do all the motions to the YMCA song. It was great. We were in a good mood. We saw these really neat little roll hats with the Reds emblem. You couldn’t buy them, though. You got one by applying for a particular credit card. I really wanted that hat.
Three months later, when she cancelled the credit card, the guy on the phone asked Helen why we were cancelling. Were we dissatisfied with the card? “Oh, no, we just got the card to get the hat.” He said, “I’ve never had anyone admit that before.”
The one I like most, though, was the one I got at a dime store sale before we went to Europe. We were on a bus from Rothenberg early, very early, one morning. There was no sound on the bus. It was full, but everyone was sleeping or trying to. Then came a still small voice, singing the ABC song. We all perked up to listen. Her mother tried to shush her. “People are sleeping.” We protested. “No, please, let her sing.” There is nothing as peace-making as the sweet singing voice of a little child.
So we became friends for a day with her and her parents and brother and sister, the way you do when traveling in a distant land, going to tourist sites and lunch and such, sticking together until differing travel plans pull you apart.
Her father noticed my hat. “I got that for thirty-nine cents” I said proudly. He looked sad. “You got cheated, didn’t you?” he said.
The best things in all of nature are trees and the singing voices of little children. I still have that hat. I wear it when I feel blue. It was worth every cent.
My book, NOW THAT I HAVE CANCER I AM WHOLE: Reflections on Life and Healing for Cancer Patients and Those Who Love Them, is published by AndrewsMcMeel. It is available from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, etc. in hardback, paperback, audio, Japanese, and Czech.