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I’ve never considered myself a “collector” as such. When I think of that term, I picture someone with boxes of old coins, or albums of stamps, or thousands of baseball cards. Perhaps exotic crystal or valuable antiques like furniture, toys, jewelry or art.

But as I look around my house, I realize I do have several things I am especially interested in—even though there’s really no monetary value in them, but deeply ingrained emotional value. An example is my collection of scarves. I like wearing scarves. I like the textures, the colors, the fabrics, the designs. And I like the way they move an “okay” outfit to one with just a little something extra.

My earliest memory of being aware of the scarf dates back to about age five or six. My sister Pat was a teenager then, and the fashionable thing for girls was to wear a short scarf tied close to the neck at the top of a cardigan or pullover sweater. In the summer, the scarf was worn inside a turned-up collar on the blouse.

I idolized my big sister. And I know I was her “cat’s meow.” The photo I have of her on my dresser is the last school picture made of her (in September 1953) about a month before she died at age sixteen. I still miss her. And yet I only knew her for seven years! Amazing, isn’t it, how legacies are implanted in us, and their impact lasts for a lifetime; in my case, nearly sixty-five years after she died.

The first scarves I wore were those short ones, close to the neck, which did not have much leeway or variety in tying. But when the longer scarves came into style— especially in the ’60s for the more bohemian types—I was in heaven.

I have continued to wear them even when it was not necessarily stylish. I wear them because I like them! And over the years friends have given me the scarves they don’t want to wear anymore, often saying to me as they hand them over, “It makes me feel good to give this to someone I know will love and wear it.”

I have lots of friends who have given up wearing scarves. So now I have many, many scarves. Occasionally, I will look through the dozens of scarves hanging in my closet and think, “I really should get rid of some of these.” But when I try to choose which ones will go, I can’t part with any of them! And, making it even harder to give them away, most of them have a “story” to go with them.

So now I don’t worry about having so many scarves. It will be up to my children when I’m dead and gone to send them somewhere else. I can hear them now, “Why would anyone want to have ALL these scarves?!!”

It’s simple. Because I loved Pat.