Papi’s Red Fleece
Fannie Watkinson, Lincoln, Massachusettes
This story is part mine, part my dad’s. The red marsupial fleece came into my Papi’s life just before I did. My dad, that fleece and I have been linked ever since. In one of the first pictures of my dad and me together, we are ready to head out to “Special Place” where he used to lullaby me to sleep every day. He is holding me, swaddled in layers of material while he has his red fleece snug up around his neck.
Growing up, I have no memories of a time when that fleece was not in the picture: hiking in the Whites, splitting wood in the backyard for our stove, cross country skiing under the stars, during bleary-eyed Christmas mornings… Papi’s Red Fleece became inseparable from the person I knew as my dad, Papi. It was only a matter of time before I got my hands on his fleece and wore it myself. Knobby-kneed and probably younger than ten, I felt grown up and invincible when I wore Papi’s Red Fleece draped over me like a dress. It was warmer, softer and more comforting than any other garment I owned and it had all of my dad’s memories laced into its fibers.
We now wear-share the red fleece that is almost 25 years old. He was sporting it the day he spotted the four wolf pups in Yellowstone two summers ago and I was wearing it while applying to college. Papi’s Red Fleece was on him when he finished his third Pan-Mass Challenge and was out with us on the Haute Route in the Swiss Alps. It kept me warm in the fierce wind of Boulder, CO while my ultimate Frisbee team fought at Collegiate Nationals. This red fleece has been a constant in both the day-in, day-out moments and the bigger milestones we have shared. Even though it has been around forever and been used and abused endlessly by two generations simultaneously, it shows almost no signs of aging. That small hole in its sleeve? It was acquired before I was born during his friend’s riotous bachelor party when someone set off fireworks indoors…
Intertwined in the memories are the values I’ve been taught through the years. They parallel those that I have learned Patagonia embodies: honesty, integrity, love of the outdoors, attention to detail, dedication to quality and, above all, fulfilling our responsibility to better this world. I cannot imagine sharing my life with a better fleece or a better dad. It is an enduring celebration of the times we have been so fortunate to have together and the miraculous grounds we have stomped. I am in a relationship with Patagonia for life!