The Story of The Red Sweater and Audrey’s Babies

The story of The Red Sweater…

I believe in angels.  I believe that angels visit in the most extraordinarily ordinary ways… like in a Red Sweater.

My story of The Red Sweater begins when I was a child; the child and only daughter of a career Navy man – my Dad.  My family crisscrossed the USA with my Dad, and we always lived on or near a Naval Base.  I grew up with Naval  Bases; at the hospitals when sick, at the recreation facilities, and accompanying my Mom on weekly trips to the commissary for food and to the post exchange for just about everything else.  I don’t remember ever shopping for clothing anywhere other than the post exchange until my Dad retired from the Navy and a civilian job brought him and my family to Rhode Island. I was just about to turn 13 years old.

Hello Almacs Supermarket and Warwick Shopper’s World and Shepard’s Department Store and The Outlet in downtown Providence!

I never stepped foot on a Naval Base again until the spring of 2004.  My Dad passed away in 1975, at age 47, and left a hole in my heart so big that nothing has ever filled that space; but my Mom is still with us (now almost 88!) and she still has privileges on Base.  Almost 9 years ago, when my Mom needed to update her survivor credentials, we took a drive to Newport Naval Base in Newport, RI.  Entering the base made me feel like a kid again, and I almost couldn’t soak it all in; the checkpoints, the men and women in uniform, the water surrounding us, the ships so huge and stately.  We headed to take care of business, then my Mom asked if we could check out the post exchange for old time’s sake.

Absolutely.

Entering the post exchange was like stepping back into my childhood; the feel, the smells, the guys and gals in uniform, the familiarity.  I could almost feel my Dad holding my hand and walking so tall next to me. My Mom and I soaked it all in as we headed to the women’s department.  We stayed for a long while.  It was there that I found The Red Sweater.  I loved its soft cotton feel and happy color.  It felt somehow special. It was the only thing I bought that day.  I guess it was all I needed.  And my Mom and I haven’t been back since.

Flash forward 6 months.  My daughter Audrey and her husband Matthew were working and living in NYC and expecting their first child, a boy… William, named in honor of my Dad.  It was an early Friday evening and my husband Barry and I were driving on the Mount Hope Bridge in Bristol, headed to Newport for dinner.  That’s when we got the call from Audrey that they were headed to the hospital.  Barry crossed the bridge, turned around, we headed home to quickly pack some clothing and things, picked up our daughter Jane and rushed to NYC.

William wouldn’t arrive until the next afternoon, but my heart grew to depths and heights and widths unexplainable the moment we met.  Here we are, William, and me in The Red Sweater…

But I didn’t connect The Red Sweater with my angel Dad just yet.

Flash forward one year and three days.  Audrey and Matthew were back at the same hospital, ready to welcome their second son, Alexander, into this wonderful world of ours.  I had been to the City to visit Audrey, Matthew and William, but Alex wasn’t due for 10 more days.  Alex had different plans, though, and this is Alexander, and me in The Red Sweater, the moment we met…

It would take 18 more months and the birth of Audrey and Matthew’s third son, Benjamin, on a lovely April 4th morning in Providence before I would see the angelic magic in The Red Sweater.  This is Benjamin, and me in The Red Sweater, the moment we met…

That’s when I realized the pattern of The Red Sweater from the post exchange; where my Dad was as much as walking with my Mom and me that day. Yes, I believe that angels visit in the most extraordinarily ordinary ways… like in a Red Sweater from a Naval post exchange. It was my Dad’s way of being there, because there is no other explanation.  I mean, I do have lots of other clothing!

Of course, when Audrey and Matthew’s 4th son, Henry, arrived 14 months later, The Red Sweater was waiting.  Here is Henry, and me in The Red Sweater, the moment we met…

Benjamin, today’s “Birthday Boy”, is the guy who has always been fascinated with the photos of him and his brothers on the days they were born, and me in The Red Sweater.  I now wear The Red Sweater on their birthdays, reminding me that each baby, each birthday, is a celebration that goes beyond everything worldly; babies and birthdays are miracles that everyone, especially angels, come to celebrate…

Birthday Boy Benjamin, and me in The Red Sweater- 4/4/13!

A long time ago, Benjamin asked, “Grandma, will you wear the red sweater if Mommy ever has another baby?”

I answered yes.  

That Red Sweater has been touched by an angel.  I know it.

 

The Story of The Red Sweater and Audrey’s Babies was last modified: April 4th, 2013 by Sharon Couto
SHOWHIDE Comments (14)
  1. Cool story – I was searching your site and thought it was no longer active. Lots of outdated info – hope you get to update it soon. I will be back for sure

  2. I am crying as I write this! What a beautiful post Sharon! It is a blessed sweater for sure! It reminds me of when we went back to bury my father on an island off the coast of Maine owned by a friend of his, we visited the hut we always stayed in as a family, and the only thing in the hut was my father’s blue sweater he always used to wear. I felt like it was some sort of sign and have kept that sweater to this day. Thank you for that special post.

  3. Elizabeth, I know in both my heart and mind that little (or big!) signs from our loved ones are all around us. Your Dad’s blue sweater is a lovely hug, a warm embrace. Thank you for sharing this. Maybe Dads and sweaters are special angel things!

  4. Nancy… no matter if it’s 110 degrees! Thank you, my friend! xo! And I’m SO excited about your November arrival, too! SO wonderful!

  5. I am tearing up! How very special that sweater is. That is so sweet honoring the tradition by wearing that sweater! Too precious!

  6. I don’t know what to say. I’m having a hard time seeing through my tears. I know we are years apart, but I swear- you and I- our souls are connected in so many ways.
    Your red sweater is beautiful and I know your Dad is watching down on you Mom, you and your babies and all your beautiful grandbabies.
    Thank you for sharing this <3

  7. Sharon, you have absolutely touched my heart tonight. I… I keep typing things that are silly and seem insignificant, but I wanted you to know that this story has touched my heart. I think to my grandmother, who passed before I had children, and how in some small way, she was always there with me. A necklace. A ring. Always there. Thank you for helping me remember such amazing memories as well.

  8. I was touched beyond words at your story. It is so magical and beautiful. I lost my dad just over a year ago and for me its yellow taxi cabs. When I see one in our residential neighborhood (and not just in NYC…cause there are thousands) I know its my dad. Just last month there was on parked outside my mom’s house. The ad sign on the cab were words of encouragement…words I needed at that moment…from my dad. Congratulations on your beautiful grandchildren.

The Story of The Red Sweater and Audrey’s Babies was last modified: April 4th, 2013 by Sharon Couto