When my dad died a few years ago, I got a good many of his clothes, since we were the same size. Among them was a fleece jacket I wrote about after a trip to Alaska in 2011 (https://theconnection08.wordpress.com/2011/06/17/alaska-2-daddys-jacket/).

Another piece of outerwear was a Members Only down parka. Again, like the fleece, nothing fancy or expensive. Just something he bought at Belk’s or Wal-Mart. When I found it in his closet, I asked myself what a man living in southwest Georgia, where we sometimes had to have air conditioning at Christmas, would need with a down parka. Daddy never went any farther north than Kentucky. But this was of a weight suitable for very cold snowy weather with near or below zero wind chills.

I got it out the other day when the Arctic vortex plunged the temps here to single digits, and the wind was so strong it was difficult to drive to a meeting out of town, so buffeted was my SUV. It kept me warm and cozy, though it shed like crazy on my black turtleneck.

I’ve had it now since 2010, and this is the first time I’ve worn it more than a few minutes. So again, what would a man in the deep South, almost to Florida, need with a down parka?

Being prepared.

Daddy always brought three hats and four jackets (I’m only slightly exaggerating) and three or four pair of shoes with him when he and Mama visited my wife and me in the various places we have lived, even though they were only going to be with us for a couple of days and they came in moderate weather. I guess he wanted to be ready in case the weather changed unexpectedly. So he had a parka on the off chance that the temp in Georgia plunged to Arctic lows.

It’s not a bad idea to be prepared, and not merely for the weather. As a funeral director reminded my congregation earlier this week in a dinner program, tomorrow is promised to no one. Or as Don Henley once put it, “In a New York minute, everything can change.”  All of us need to live as those prepared to die, and that includes not just making sure relationships are right with God, our families, and our neighbors, but having plans in place for the fate that befalls us all. A last will and testament drawn up and filed. Instructions given on wishes about healthcare and resuscitation and the disposition of our bodies (burial? cremation? donation?). A durable power of attorney written and witnessed. Bank accounts and deeds properly worded. Beneficiaries named for IRAs and insurance policies.

Because we never know when the cold wind will blow.

© 2013 Tom Cheatham. All rights reserved. 

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