One of my earliest memories of childhood is the rub of my father’s shirt against my cheek, as he would lift me gently after long drives home. I’ve always been a light sleeper and would normally wake up halfway out the car door. But I remember the closeness to him was so precious, that I never lifted my head off his shoulder and pretended to sleep all the way to my bed. As he would walk me quietly to my room, my legs would sway against his belly.
So many memories of my father are based in deeply sensory and olfactory experiences. I keep his old, worn-out shirts and style them often to work. I swear sometimes they still smell of his forever-used Hugo Boss cologne. I instantly soften my stance when I see somebody with his gait, and every time I see a man in smart ankle boots, I remember him when he was younger, overcoat in hand, rushing out of the house for the airport-- late as usual.
My mother once told me she decided to marry my father the day she noticed his shoes. “You always know the man has taste if he has good shoes,” she told me (perhaps too) early on.
My father has a great collection of shoes. Even though he proudly announces (to everybody) that he only ever wears LAMA shoes now, sometimes I catch his old Bally loafers peeking out from the closet and remember them sitting neatly outside his room in the 90’s. My sister and I would put our feet inside them and race around the house. I still remember the weight of them as we dragged our feet and laughed.
These days though, his favourites are the real suede slip-on loafers, the Bruno casual slip ons and the leather boat-shoes in every color. He even went and purchased the chunky leather sandals, before realising they were too “adventurous” for a guy in his 70’s who loves the classics. To note: He still refuses to return them, just in case he wakes up more adventurous one of these days.
My father owns every color of classic polo shirt we have made at LAMA to date, and often offers them up to all his friends and in all his dad whatsapp groups-- even the ones out of stock from a year ago. He’ll wear it over his tubby belly now, with a pair of chinos and his leather loafers and then send me a photo with the message “A proud LAMA dad.”
There are few things that give me more joy than making my dad proud. I see him with my own son now, both of them in their matching LAMA linens, walking hand in hand. Though he has a hard time lifting him up, often I catch my son in his lap, his head against the same shoulder I have leaned on my whole life.
Happy father’s day to all the dads and the kids who love them: the proud ones, the ones with the terrible selfie skills, the ones who can’t help sending you WhatsApp forwards about the health benefits of something obscure and ridiculous. May you live long and healthy, your shirts always smelling of your signature colognes, and your shoes always in good taste.