Reub's journey

02 September 2014

My mother's hats

My mother was a city girl, moved to the country. She was a fashion diva in America's Dairyland, a beauty who walked the runways in Midwest fashion shows of the late 1930's. She could work high heels, gloves, blazers, and hats with the best of them. My mother is now transitioning into a care facility for Alzheimer's patients.

Three weeks ago a mysterious big box, weighing practically nothing, appeared by the front door.



My mother's hat collection.



Most afternoons I put one on and walk around in it.


I like this little wool derby but it's a bit small.


I've been looking for a mannequin so that I can properly photograph these hats, but nobody has one for sale.



So that's why there is an overload of selfies.



One afternoon I practiced with my camera on an auto timed mode and tried on hat after hat. In the middle of this my phone rang.



It was my brother, the one who had sent me the hats. Telling one wildly odd anecdote after another, he never fails to make me laugh.



He had serious news about our mother, whose situation continues to worsen. How strange to be wearing her favorite red hat as I photograph myself hearing this news.





Wearing your mother's hats takes you to a different time and place.





But mostly? Mostly it is simply just wonderful fun.


52 comments:

  1. This is fabulous. That is all. Love to you.

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    1. I wrote about my mother at your urging, Reya. I wasn't going to, but the hats arrived as if to say "Reya's right. You should. Now take our pictures and do it."

      It's been really great fun. Love to you too.

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  2. What wonderful hats! My daughter is a theatrical costume designer and has educated me to many period styles, but to me your hats are stylish in any time. Delightful!

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    1. Wow, what a fun job your daughter has. I am wondering about the age of these hats. I have no idea how old they are. They're in perfect condition...they look new, but I know they aren't.

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  3. gosh, they're really beautiful. and i'm sorry, too. these are wonderful and poignant photos.

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  4. Great post. You do hats well... they suit you. Not everyone can wear them like that. You inherited that sense of style from your mother. I'm sorry to read that she's not doing well. May you all have the strength to cope.

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    1. I am a hat person-that is true. Is it an inherited thing? A chromosome for hat preferences.

      My mother is at least comfortable and most of the time, pretty happy. So I guess I'm glad for her. She remembers nothing.

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  5. I agree with Hilary. You wear hats very well! I have several favorites, but I think my most favorites are the ones with you talking on the phone. Yup, the red one rocks. Me? I can't wear hats - never could.

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    1. Oh I bet there's a hat out there for you. But it's no good if hats make you feel dumb; then it's better to go without.
      The straw hat I'm wearing in the pic with my back to the camera, talking on the phone, is a really cool and unusual hat with a fancy brim. I wasn't sure which was the front or the back. Maybe it doesn't matter.

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  6. love. hats and socks make me think of you, kerry. i harbor a mad crush on your goorin bros hat to this day. i'm torn here between the obviously fabulous red and that intriguing lace-up blue...thank you for sharing the box! meeting your mother maybe 10 years ago, i can attest to her being an extremely sophisticated beauty. thinking about you!

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  7. Thank you Debbie.

    Socks! Doesn't everybody love socks? They make such great socks these days.

    The lace-up blue hat is a fabulous choice, although a teeny bit small for me. I wonder when I will wear it for real. The black wool hat with the big red rose is also awesome, even if I look dorky in that photo. :-)

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  8. Kerry, this post is just brilliant. I am so glad there was no mannequin to be found. I loved this tour de chapeau.

    Sending my best to your excellent mother.

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    1. Thank you Suze. Continuer à parler français pour moi. J'ai besoin de la pratique!

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  9. Your mother appears to have been a fashion conscious person with hats for all occasions. Wow this is an incredible collection ! And you are an awesome and stunning model.

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    1. Thanks RR. It's true that she has always been highly fashion conscious, so much so that I have trouble picturing her all put-together in a nursing home. And I am actually kind of a terrible model...these photos are gleaned from a zillion pics that I took! You should see all the bad ones.

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  10. What a fun post. I like the second one of you on the phone. Great smile.

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    1. AC, thank you. My brother can be quite hilarious, so hard not to laugh at him.

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  11. She has to be a fabulous woman to have owned so many fantastic hats!

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    1. GA, most of her life was spent in a farmhouse; isn't that crazy?

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  12. Reya recommended this as a perfect post...she was right...thanks, and hope happiness to your mother...

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    1. Thank you G. I am anything but a perfectionist, but if Reya says something is perfect, I'll happily go with it. :-)

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  13. Fabulous post. What a special time for you. Hoping it all goes easily for you in the future.

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  14. I love them all. I'm also a hat person and my mother was also very fashion conscious and worked as a model for awhile. Personally, I think anyone can wear hats and look great and don't know why they don't. I suppose it is a bit of a risk.
    I'm sorry your mother is having a hard time.

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    1. Rubye, it's always nice to meet another person who feels the same about hats. Seems like people are either one or the other. I did just read that hats are "coming back" so you and I are already *on trend.*

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  15. A great post. Mostly I am amazed by people who had good relationships with their mother and are sad by their decline.

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    1. The relationship with my mother wasn't a perfect one. Now her decline is inevitable, fraught with drama, slow, and sad. I am accepting of the situation because there is no other choice; the hats cheer me up.

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  16. Ooh, I like the one with the tie in back!

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    1. Oooh, me too! I wish it were just a little bit bigger though.

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  17. Such a difficult time of life. And yet I'm sure your mother would love that the hats are still being enjoyed.

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    1. Thank you Christopher. I think that if she were present, that she would love it that I adore these hats.

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  18. Replies
    1. Thank you twg! I have been out of town and off the grid, so I just now realized that's what happened. :)

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  19. My Mom was afflicted but that terrible disability, sad and scary. It is good to have things to remind you of the real person that used to be.

    Well deserved POTW!

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    1. Yes, you are right. It feels good to have these things and remember her as she once was.

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  20. I am a hat girl. Love that your mother is too. What a great collection you have been gifted with. Work it, Girl. Work it!

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    1. You and me, we should get together. Hat girls for-evah.

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  21. This made me think of all my mom's stuff which I wade through like reliving. I love the hats and the photos. Isn't it a bit poignant that we wear hats on the part of us where memory resides?

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    1. What a cool thought. Yes. Covering my head with the memory of her, and knowing that her memory has faded...the hats have passed on to me now. Almost like a responsibility.

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  22. I love the blue one. How nice to have had a styling mom! Alzheimer's is tough, my mom had it too.

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    1. I wonder if I can have the blue one stretched just a bit, so that it fits properly. It's a spectacular hat. A cloche.

      I didn't know that your mother had Alzheimer's, Rebecca.
      Thanks.

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  23. Congrats on the POTW award from Hilary at the Smitten Image! What a lot of cool hats and what fun to play with them! I am sorry for your Mom and the difficult journey ahead of you and your family.
    Hugs

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    1. Thank you Wendy. It's tough right now for us, but thank you for the supportive words. I appreciate them.

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  24. Replies
    1. Thanks! Wear a hat, it's easy, right?

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  25. This recounting made me both smile and feel teary. My own mother was not a runway model but she had a collection of lovely hats. After she was gone, I tried everyone of them on before packing them up for the thrift shop. (At the time, I was in a non-hat phase.) Looking at your photos, I wish now that I'd kept them!

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    1. Oh, that's too bad, but at least you tried them all on. A strange and poignant feeling, isn't it?
      These hats take up a fair amount of space. I'm wondering where to put them; they've resided on the dining room table for weeks now.

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