The Shirt off Their Backs

It was more than a year past when we went out to lunch with Wez and Mitzi Nicholson at a Cracker Barrel in the middle of Illinois. I complimented him on his Green Bay Packers shirt. Wez, an Australian, loved football, and Green Bay in particular. I, too, love football, Green Bay in particular. Often we’d chat or email about the Packers and their draft choices.

Wez and Mitzi were in Illinois on their way to Gen Con, where no doubt Wez would wear the shirt. He’d been gifted it by Toni Winslow-Brill, whose husband Rick used to wear it. Rick was killed some years back, victim of an atrocious driver. Rick, too, loved football, and Green Bay in particular.

Rick had been one of my regional directors when I ran the RPGA Network for TSR. Yep, that was a long time more than a few years ago. He loved roleplaying games and Living City, and he was known for his cries of “Choppin’ broccoli” when his character raced into battle.

Wez met Rick through the RPGA and playing games at Gen Con. Small world for a large circle of friends. Football, D&D, lots of love to go around.

Rick and Wez, who died of cancer earlier this year, were dear friends of mine. And Mitzi gifted me their shirt. I wore it out to dinner the other night with friends, an early dinner so I could get home to watch the Packers game. Across the table, a friend pointed at the shirt and wrinkled his nose. “I hope they lose,” he snarled. Obviously a Bear’s fan. He continued to wrinkle his nose at my shirt.

At this very special shirt.

I am blessed to have this shirt, that out of all of Wez’s buddies Mitzi picked me to wear it. A fine shirt, which I wear with pride even when my beloved Packers lose. When we go out to dinner with those friends again, I’ll wear it. His sneer will run off like rain.

The shirt reminds me of Rick and Wez and Mitzi, good friends, good times.

Bittersweet that it is mine now. One of my treasures. Maybe I’ll wear it again Sunday.

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