Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A fashionable day

Yesterday, as I was getting ready for work I thought of my mother. I put on my petticoat, and noticed that it was getting a bit tatty. My mother, like Rachael, was a fashionista in her day. She was always perfectly turned out, not in the latest thing, but in some classic thing. When I was small, and saw pictures of the Duchess of Windsor, I thought the Duchess had been copying my mom in looks and fashion. My lack of interest in these things was one of Mother's life sorrows. I recall a hat she wanted me to wear to church when I was about four, a straw hat with a wide brim and velvet trim. I would not wear it. To entice me to wear it, she said that Margaret O’Brien had one like it but I was unmoved, having no idea who Margaret O’Brien was. Now, in retrospect, I realize that it was an attractive hat, and I would have been quite cute in it. Another of her lifelong sorrows was my hair. Once I was of an age to decide on my own hairdo (older than you might think, as she exerted quite an influence these things in my early life,) I wore it like Mary Travers, which was pretty de rigueur in my hippie days. However, she hated my hair, and strove manfully but unsuccessfully to get me to change it. Many years later, my mother, still fixated on my hair, said that I had “wasted my youth with that hairdo.”
However lovely her outfits looked, her underwear was another thing. She just didn’t seem to care so much about it, and it and her pajamas could often be a quite shabby. Rebecca and I, who don’t care that much about what we wear as long as it covers us up, always have nice undergarments, and always like to have nice pajamas. My poor mother once said, “Rebecca certainly looks awful all day, and then dresses up to go to bed.”
After noting that my slip was getting tatty and would need replacement very soon, I selected the color shoes I wanted to wear, and then a scrub top to match them. This top demanded a white skirt, and I have one which belonged to my mother at least 50 years ago. It still looks nice, and whenever I wear it, other nurses want to know where I got it. It is a linen-like wrap-around which ties in the front. So I was quite thinking of my mom as I went to work in her skirt and scruffy underwear. Later in the evening, I looked down and noted that my skirt was several inches longer than it had been when I put it on. Yikes! That could have been a disaster. I slipped into an empty room and fixed the almost undone ties, averting serious embarrassment. The world might have seen my tatty slip! This too reminded me of my mother. Once, before I knew her, she was coming out of church when she felt her knickers falling off. She pretended not to notice, and gracefully stepped right out of them, leaving some caretaker later to wonder what could have been going on there. That, in my mind , is the price one pays for not taking more care with the unseen.

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