My blessed mama probably won’t read this. And if she does, she’ll laugh. Because she knows there was one thing about her that drove me crazy. Her favorite theme was the twenty-seven years she went without a new coat. It was true. I was there and I saw her, always making sure her brood was fed and clothed—even if it meant doing without.
Most of the time she was happy to serve. But every now and then something would remind her and out would come the pathetic coat story.
Funny how things work out. Her lack of coat became a theme for my abundance. In college the family I cooked for gave me a beautiful red poncho that I wore through three years of college and another three pregnancies. On my first married Christmas, my brand new in-laws handed me a gorgeous Bullock’s box. In it was a fawn-colored faux-suede pants coat that made my heart sing.
In the intervening years a friend gave me her mother-in-law’s elegant emerald green overcoat (a serious East Coast wool garment.) One Christmas I sewed five down jackets for Christmas presents. I live in Central California and it isn't even cold here!
What is it about my mother’s lack that the Universe overcompensated with me? Was it some erratic force laughing at us? My mother-in-law left coats hanging in every closet. She hoarded them, child of the Depression that she was, and after her death I filled my car with them and distributed them to a homeless shelter.
So what’s my whine-song? Naturally it has to be different from my mother’s. And my daughters will have to find different yet. I think mine is the poor-me-I-don’t-eat-enough-to-be-this-damn-fat song. Yeah, that’s the one my daughters will remember. With a chorus of, “why me, why me.”
They won’t remember the coats. Why should they—their closets are full of them. It’ll be something else, maybe plastic grocery bags or—here’s a good one—the unequal distribution of household chores.
And, so the beat goes on.
What’s your whine song? Have a theme you’d care to share with us? Come on--you know you want to!