Posted inEditor's Pick

The Last Hand-Me-Down: Retracing My Brother’s Life Through His Clothes

Tom Molanphy | OutPost19 | April 13, 2014 | 4,652 words

Molanphy reflects on an influential sibling, and the clothing that came with it:

Sister has to ring the bell twice our way to shut me up and freeze us before line-up. Paul’s shoes become my first chance at storytelling, and I love it. Even though my Mom offers me a new pair of shoes at the end of the month, I wear Paul’s shoes, pinching and painful but with pleasure, for the rest of the year.

Posted inNonfiction, Story

The Last Hand-Me-Down: Retracing My Brother’s Life Through His Clothes

Tom MolanphyLoud Memories of a Quiet Life (OutPost 19) | May 2012 | 18 minutes (4,652 words)

Tom Molanphy earned his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Montana. He freelances for 10Best/Travel Media Group at USA Today and teaches creative writing, composition and journalism at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. This essay previously appeared in “Loud Memories Of A Quiet Life,” published by OutPost19, and our thanks to Molanphy for allowing us to reprint it here.

Many things conspired
To tell the whole story.
Not only did they touch me,
Or my hand touched them:
They were
So close
That they were a part
Of my being,
They were so alive with me
That they lived half my life
And will die half my death

– from “Ode to Things” by Pablo Neruda


 for Paul

It’s dark and quiet in my brother’s closet. Brian, my other brother, rummages through bathroom drawers, rattling painkillers in their bottles. He’s checking for used razors, combs, brushes — anything with hair or skin or “part of Paul.” My Dad, on his knees in the living room, jimmies the lock on a long, black trunk, a keepsake of Paul’s from our Uncle Jack. He clears his throat in the deep, rumbling way he does before diving into a tough job. We’re each looking for what to take and what to leave.

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