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It happened during the great purge – the day we wiped the house clean of my parent’s lives.

We were tired.  Like tin men, we had moved through mountains of memories.  Recycle this.  Trash that.  What remained were a few pieces of clothing.

My sister reached in, pulling out blue wool.  The shade that once matched Mom’s eyes match mine now.  I watched my sister’s fingers draw circles in its softness.  Of sturdy Irish fiber, the sweater and Mom were outside prickly — but comfortable when wrapped in their warmth.

So much had happened since Sis and I picked this sweater out for Mom.  Had it really been twelve years?  Hard to imagine anyone else wearing Mom’s sweater.

My sister looked at me.  “Do you want this?”

Caught off guard, I don’t know how to answer.  I only know Mom had —  Mom had wanted this sweater.  She loved wearing it.  She bragged it kept her warm on below freezing days, even when the Oklahoma wind whipped up her legs.   Without bothering with buttons, Mom would draw its looseness tight against her body before hurrying out to brave the cold.

Back in the closet, Sis drew Mom’s sweater toward her face.  Then, looking at me, she buried her nose in its folds.  Breathing in, she shook her head.  “Gone.”