Key Chains and T-shirts

Checking out at the grocery store one day, the woman behind me observed
Rising from the ashes of a former self

my t-shirt and asked, “Do you live in Phoenix, or do you just have the t-shirt?” Honestly, I don’t think much about what’s on my t-shirt after I put it on in the morning. It took me a minute to understand what she was asking.

“My husband brought it back for me from a business trip,” I replied. “It’s a thing we do.” As I walked back to my son’s house where I’d been helping out, I thought about how the bring-me-back-a-tshirt tradition started.

It started with keychains.

When Sam and I married, he worked making boxes in the warehouse of Mallinckrodt Medical, a medical device manufacturer located in the small country town he grew up in. Eventually, he worked his way up in the company and started taking business trips. Each time he went to a new city or country, he’d bring me back a keychain. It was a fun, inexpensive souvenir. He had fun picking out one he thought I’d like, and I looked forward to seeing what he’d chosen for me.

From the second year of our marriage to the seventh year, I gave birth to five children and gained 133 pounds. Back in the 80s and early 90s, it was difficult to find a size XXXXL t-shirt in a department store. The chances of finding one in an airport gift shop were slim, to say the least.

Fast-forward eleven years.

With the support of my wonderful husband, family, and friends, by 2003, I had deleted three Xs from my t-shirt size. Now Sam could find my size at the gift shop. I was sooooo excited to finally fit into my wardrobe of choice: a t-shirt and jeans with a belt. My closet quickly filled up with t-shirts.

I love the fact that I can wear clothes I like and not have to base my wardrobe on what clothes are available in my size. When I look at myself in the mirror or walk into my closet and see my colorful t-shirts, I say a little prayer thanking God for His grace and for the place He’s brought me to in my life.

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