Like many of you over the Thanksgiving holiday, the Randall’s spent much of their time with family. We had a delightful time with my parents, aunt, cousin, and Cole returning from Boston for a few days. However, the one moment that stood out in my mind occurred on Saturday when my ninety-year-old grandfather made his way through Norman. Accompanied by another aunt and uncle, Herb filled our Saturday afternoon with laughter and wisdom.
We went to lunch over on campus corner, near the University of Oklahoma. It was fun pointing out all the landmarks to him, but the highlight was showing him Heisman Row. Statues of Billy Sims, Steve Owens, Billy Vessels, Jason White, and Sam Bradford basked in the afternoon sun, as my grandfather recalled each player. On our way home from campus, my grandfather asked if we could stop by a store to pick a new red OU hat. “Of course,” I replied, proud of myself for showing him his favorite university.
As we pulled into the Sooner Shop, we entered into a sea of crimson and cream. Walking over to the wall where the hats were located, I pointed out the variety to him. Thinking he might want to depart from his traditional all red hat, I offered him hats with red bills and white tops, white bills and red tops, and an all gray hat that I liked. He was gracious and patient with me, but declined each. Again, he gently emphasized, “No, it must be red.”
A bit confused with his obsession with red, I asked him why his new hat had to be exactly like the one he was wearing. “Mitch,” he began, “I wear a red hat every day. The reason I wear a red hat is that when I go to see your grandmother every morning at the nursing home, she recognizes my red hat. She can be sitting staring into space, but when she catches a glimpse of my red hat bounding down the hallway, she smiles.”
My grandmother has Alzheimer’s Disease, therefore her memory has been declining over the last several years. Even though she has a difficult time remembering faces these days, she remembers one that always dons a red hat. As I stood before the variety of hats with tears welling in my eyes listening to my grandfather, I knew one hat would not do. “Let’s get two, Granddad!” I offered. We walked out of the store with two new red hats that day and I left now knowing why he wears a red hat.
May there be a red hat for all of us this holiday season!