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For as long as I could remember, my dad has always been an advocate for the handkerchief. It was always an essential item he carried around with him in his pants pocket. My mom told me he would always have 2 on hand: one crisply folded & pressed in his suit jacket pocket to lend to guests, & another more crumpled up & disheveled in his back pocket for his own private use.

Ever since I was a little girl, about 6 or 7 years old, my dad would always lend me his handkerchief. Back then, I was always running around with the sniffles & severe allergies. (I inevitably inherited that from my dad.) My dad just couldn’t stand seeing me sniffling & rubbing my nose in public, so he would pass me his handkerchief & tell me to wipe/blow my nose. He would also tell me to keep one under my pillow just in case I woke up in the middle of the night with a wet nose.

It was a sincerely sweet gesture that stuck with me for the rest of my life. It forever linked me to my dad in an unbreakable bond.

As I grew older, I would keep my handkerchief in my pocket, bring it with me wherever I went. Then as soon as I got home, I would put it under my pillow. My friends never understood why I always kept a handkerchief. They considered it odd & such a tomboyish thing. I paid them no attention & went right along with my handkerchief tucked securely in my pants pocket.

I am in my early 30s now, & I still use my handkerchief. A few have come & gone; some lost in the mysterious abyss also known as the dryer machine, others were tossed out by my mom (who perhaps thought they were too tattered to be used). I am currently on my 7th handkerchief. I keep it tucked away under my bedroom pillow. I formally named my handkerchief Tom Hanks, but I mostly call it Mr. Hanky.

For quite some time I was afraid to tell my husband, who was only my boyfriend at the time, about my interest in handkerchiefs…but he’s been supportive since I’ve told him. My husband finds it rather interesting. Sometimes he will even make jokes & ask me if he can sleep with the handkerchief, Mr. Hanky, under his pillow. Now, my handkerchief has become such a common, regular occurrence in our lives that my husband will even help me look for new handkerchiefs to bring home whenever we go shopping. He knows the exact fabric & texture I’m looking for in finding just the right addition to my modest, yet growing, collection of handkerchiefs. (By the way, I prefer 100% cotton.) I do believe this handkerchief has brought us closer together. It also linked me to another unbreakable bond with my husband.

To my dad, I thank you.

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