A Portrait of Grief and Levi’s

April 5, 2013

In the year following my mother’s death Daddy existed with two dark crescent moons under his eyes. He cried often. He wrapped his fingers on the table. He now only made one pot of coffee, no longer needing to make Mama’s decaf.


He walked around the house like a child who cannot find his mother, lost. Daddy called me one day to tell me he had just gotten a free pair of Levi’s.

Daddy needed to shop for his clothes now. A lifetime in the army wearing green camouflage fatigues and a wife with a great sense of style left him with a new need to walk the shopping malls in search of new clothes. His new Levi’s were too long, another new pair were too short. For years Mama bought his 38 x 30 Levi’s jeans and Dockers khakis. Now that he was in charge he would get to the bottom of the tomfoolery around his dungarees.

Having avoided Mama’s sewing room he trudged up the stairs past her paintings, past her writing notebooks, past the Singer sewing machine and the boxes of Butterick and Vogue patterns to the basket of supplies. There he found the faded six-foot long tape measure. 


On the kitchen table he laid out his half dozen pairs of blue jeans and began to measure each leg. Each inseam was supposed to be 28 inches. Not one pair measured up. He looked at the tags and noticed a pattern. The jeans manufactured in Vietnam were actually 27 inches. The jeans made in China were 29 inches. The jeans made in Sri Lanka were 26 inches. Daddy was pissed. He called Levi’s and explained that his darling wife had always bought his Levi’s and Dockers and now that he needed to buy them they were all sized incorrectly. He proceeded to read off the numbers of each pair stacked on the kitchen table next to his coffee mug. The kind woman on the line from the west coast mailed Daddy a coupon for one pair of Levi’s or Dockers of his choice. 


3 Responses to “A Portrait of Grief and Levi’s”

  1. Maria Says:

    Leigh Anne, This piece is a gem. It’s such an accurate way of showing overwhelming grief: it comes out in obsessing over the smallest details in life. I love your language and especially this sentence: “Now that he was in charge he would get to the bottom of the tomfoolery around his dungarees.” Amazing.

  2. jeff Says:

    lovely, lovely piece of writing. i’m going to measure my inseams tomorrow.

  3. Dad Says:

    Though I still prefer Levi’s, their “quality control” sucks!! Can’t line up seams, either!!

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