My father has carried a handkerchief since forever. It’s the one thing I remember from my childhood, how he had a spotless white cotton square, neatly folded, pressed creases, in his pocket at all times. That lovely soft piece of cloth has wiped my tears, removed gunk from my eyes, dried my hands, protected the back of my neck in the heat, been soaked in cool water and placed on my forehead when I was sick.
He always carried two handkerchiefs, one for himself, and one for my sister and me. It always smelled of detergent and soap and Old Spice and Johnson and Johnson talcum powder.
He is the only person who can make a mouse out of a handkerchief – hey, you have to use your imagination a little! And then he can make it jump to amuse more than one little crying, unhappy, or shy child. He’s done that so well that all my cousins and friends who, like me, are in their 40s still remember that trick! He does it today to amuse my children, a generation that is addicted to electronics.
To this day, I love handkerchiefs. I don’t see them as carriers of disease or unhygienic. To me they are tied to my childhood as a tangible piece of my father’s love.