This morning I stumbled out of bed and stumbled to the kitchen, poured myself a cup of ambition, yawned and stretched and tried to come alive.
Not really. It’s Saturday. I slept later than usual, I awoke refreshed and feeling great, and meandered to the bathroom.
Then I peeked out the window to see if my husband’s truck was outside which meant he hadn’t left for work yet. I didn’t see it, and I couldn’t hear any rustling around the house, so I assumed he wasn’t home.
Until I saw his hat on the kitchen table. Then I knew he was here somewhere.
His dirty, black hat, equipped with a toothpick, only goes where he goes.
It’s pretty crusty, wouldn’t you agree? Some people think he needs a new one. But why? This one is nearing the point of perfection.
He catches some grief from others about this dirty hat. Not long ago, a friend asked him when he was going to clean it. Never, that’s when. It takes a long time, years in fact, to get a hat to fit right and feel right, and cleaning it might mess with the dirt, sweat, and grime that has made it the hat it is today.
My mom has finally resigned the issue. She gave up the cause for a new hat. For years on his birthday or Christmas, she would give him gift cards to a western store in hopes that he would buy a new hat. He bought jeans and socks instead.
She hasn’t complained about this hat, but his last hat she hated. She even let him know she hated his hat.
This is his old hat. It’s pretty bad. To the untrained eye, it might look identical to his present hat, but look closely.
There are no toothpicks , the buckle is badly bent, and the dirt is thicker. Much, much, thicker.
On Christmas morning, we opened the door to find a present, wrapped and sitting on our porch. We assumed it was from my brother and his wife Janene, because that’s their style. Just leave it on the porch. But upon opening it, we discovered a brand new black felt hat. It was from J-Dub’s friend Ol’ Earl, who pitied him for his dirty, black hat.
Of course J-Dub has a going-to-town hat too. That’s what he calls his dress hat.
It’s stocked with toothpicks as well. He wears it with his going-to-town watch and his going-to-town belt.
This is my husband’s hat. It has character, it fits right, and it stays on his head. Except for the day I had to chase it across the prairie in -34 degree wind chill. But the only reason it blew off that day was because he had a scarf on his head.
Not an old lady scarf, but a cowboy scarf, otherwise known as a wild rag. I love this picture. He hates it. He looks like an old lady to me. A babushka, an old Russian grandmother. Generally he doesn’t leave the house looking like this, but the bitterness of the cold that day was unbearable. He needed to protect his ears, and the silkiness of the wild rag caused his hat to blow away. Which didn’t make the day any more enjoyable.
While others look at this hat and see a dirty, black hat in desperate need of the trash can, I see a hard-working husband. I see the sweat from his brow on a summer day, the mud from the pens where he’s sorting cattle, the dust and dirt caking his face. I see him rolling out hay in frigid temperatures, breaking ice on frozen water tanks, doctoring sick calves. I see him branding cattle, building fence, shipping yearlings. I see the his love for the occupation, the land, the lifestyle, and his love for me.
I admire this dirty, black hat.
But much more, I admire the man who wears it.