Thursday, January 7, 2010

Dressing for Respect

As many of you know, I regrettably wear "outfits" now, since Jo Anne took charge of my wardrobe and started dressing me each morning. I used to have two or three suits, some nice white shirts, a few ties, some Levis and T-shirts and that pretty much constituted my wardrobe. Life was so simple then, and deciding what to wear each day was not really very difficult for me.

I would be embarrassed to have anybody look into the closets in my bedroom where my outfits hang. There are so many matching outfits -- pants and shirts -- I get dizzy just looking at this dazzling array of finery. What is in my closets is just the tip of the iceberg, I hate to admit. Stored in boxes somewhere in the dark recesses of our home reside my summer outfits, fall outfits, spring outfits -- you get the picture. It would be unthinkable for me to wear the same outfit twice in a row or even twice in a two-week period.

My Filipino caregiver, Rey, and I would never dare to choose the "outfit" for the day. It is totally beyond our capacity to make such a momentous decision. When Jo Anne goes on a trip from time to time without me, which I encourage her to do -- she really needs the break -- if she is gone 14 days she will hang 14 different outfits from left to right in my closet. Every seventh outfit is a special "Sunday Outfit." Would Rey and I ever deviate from the foreordained outfits during her absence? I don't think so! We are both smarter than that, knowing that somehow she would find us out.

Please don't think badly of Jo Anne, or think she is practicing some form of malicious psychological "quad abuse" on me. She truly believes the way I look is a reflection of her as my wife, and also her role as my primary caregiver. In me, she doesn't have much quality raw material to work with, so she makes a valiant effort to dress what is available to her in the best possible outfits on the market. I, of course, can do nothing about this situation, and make a valiant effort to be pleasant and full of gratitude that I look so "handsome." I try my best to keep Jo Anne happy. Can you imagine what she could do to me if I got her angry, which I have inadvertently done on occasion?

I must admit that I feel badly I can't wear a suit and a white shirt and tie to Church on Sunday. Because of my life support system this is impossible. I do feel a little underdressed on Sundays in spite of Jo Anne's valiant efforts. I have always felt it was a show of respect and reverence to dress up in my best -- not to show off -- on Sundays. I think I got that feeling from observing my dad as I was growing up.

My dad was a miner. As a newly married 17-year-old he started working for Kennecott Copper Corp. in Ruth, Nevada in the old Star Pointer Mine. The Star Pointer was an underground operation. On his 34th birthday, as he was walking home from work, he realized that he had spent half of his life working underground. He applied for a position with Kennecott that didn't require him to work as a miner any longer, and ended up working in a very responsible position in the large warehouse in Ruth that serviced the mining operation until he died at the young age of 61.

Dad wore khaki colored work clothes and boots five days a week, and often on Saturdays as well. However, Sunday was a different matter. My most vivid memories of him are when I was a teenager and he was in the bishopric of the little Ruth Ward. As I recall, and I could be wrong after so many years, he owned only one suit. It was a beautiful and quite expensive blue suit purchased at Goodman-Tidball Mercantile. The only other store in town that sold suits was JCPenney. Goodman-Tidball was definitely a step up. He may have had more than one white shirt but I don't think so. The white shirt I remember him wearing had French cuffs which he wore with beautiful cufflinks. He had a couple of nice ties and a pair of expensive dress shoes which were always carefully polished and shined. When he went to Church on Sunday to fulfill his priesthood responsibilities, even Jo Anne would have been proud of the way he looked.

Dad didn't ever preach to me about reverence or respect, but demonstrated it to me by the way he dressed on Sundays and in so many other ways as well.

I think because of him, I really do wish I could still wear suits, starched white shirts, beautiful ties and wonderful shoes to Church on Sunday. I do have some okay shoes that are 15 years old and look like new. I wonder why? 

In my lifetime I have observed an evolution from "dressing up" to "dressing down" in society at large. Sad to say it has affected the way some of us dress as we attend our Church meetings on Sunday. I don't think this can be pleasing to the Lord.

Elder Robert D. Hales said it this way: "When we attend a Church meeting, our purpose is to worship our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ. Our clothing should show our reverence for Them... Mothers and fathers can teach their children by taking special care to dress in such a way as to show modesty and reverence in their own appearance and behavior....".

"Honoring our covenants, starting with baptism, affects who we are and what we do, including the kinds of things we say, the music we listen to, and the clothing we wear. When we make and keep covenants, we are coming out of the world and into the kingdom of God. Our appearance should reflect that." [Liahona, August, 2008]

Truthfully, I am very grateful to be married to somebody who cares so very much about how I look -- especially on Sundays. However, I still wish I had a blue suit I could wear on Sundays like my dad.


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