The fuschia coat

Hi Mom, Did you see me? I was wearing that bright fuschia jacket. You remember –  the lightweight down one which you used to wear as a winter coat. I never had a chance to ask you if I could take it back with me to Sweden. You had already left by then, but I figured that you wouldn’t mind my taking it. Its more like a jacket on me and it’s been perfect for the chilly Spring and early Summer days we’ve been having here in Stockholm. I never had a chance to say it, but thanks Mom.

I think about you a lot since those days back in December. Every time I’ve worn that jacket I’ve said a silent Hi Mom. But, mostly,  in the evenings, when dinner is done and I haven’t quite decided what to do next, I think of you. I remember how every evening, for the past 4 or 5 years, I would think “Okay, I have to call my mother now”. I admit that it wasn’t always a pleasant thought – it was more like a chore – something I felt I had to do. I always called you, because it was more difficult for you to be able to call me here in Sweden. Since you got sick and had to leave your beloved house in Homestead and moved into Monroe Village, the kind of conversations we would have weren’t really about much of anything anymore – just superficial chatter, both of us trying to be cheerful.  Before I would start up Skype I sat for a bit to try to think of cheerful things I could tell you about my life here in Stockholm.

Back when I was still young and living in New York, I called you quite frequently – just to chat or to ask you your opinion, or how to do something or just quite simply as a sounding board for some of my own thoughts. But I wasn’t able to have those kinds of discussions with you much anymore. Mainly I called just to make sure you were still answering the telephone.  I also was trying to edit what I talked to you about. I tried to only tell you good things – to cheer you up – so you wouldn’t worry about me. Successes Bevin was having in school, what I was working on at work, the funny things our cat had done and what I was making for dinner. If potatoes were involved in the dinner, I always made sure to tell you. You liked hearing about us eating potatoes. I know you tried not to ask but you always wanted to know if I would be coming to visit and when. I know it saddened you when I had to say that I wouldn’t be able to come visit until later. Sometimes I would hear the regret in your voice that you were no longer able to come to see us anymore but I would say, that’s OK we would come to visit you. Later.

If I wanted to discuss something from the past it seemed like you couldn’t remember what I was referring to or maybe it was just that you  didn’t want to remember that long ago. Your days had become a routine of indignities and infirmities and I think you were trying to protect me from hearing about them – to keep me from worrying. And you were always trying to be positive and cheerful too. You would never tell me if you had fallen or hurt yourself. I often found that out much later. I was so glad when you met Marty. The world changed then for you. You had something to look forward to each day and to brighten your life. And when it got really tough the last year, he was always there to be with you. I am so grateful for that. You weren’t so alone.

Its summer now, I’m on vacation and we are at our summer place. A few days ago I was wearing a short-sleeved, navy blue cotton cardigan over my tank top. That was also yours – found in your closet, never worn. I wear it now – its perfect for Swedish summer and I’ll wear the fuschia coat in the winter. That way a part of you is with me all year round.

5 Responses to “The fuschia coat”

  • nancy h Says:

    very moving hilarie. ur mom would like it too. writing instead of calling now..made me think of my mom. Also made me think of a new book i just started on my kindle. The MEMORY KEEPER by Phyllis Theroux.
    She’s kept journals all her life as I have (u too) and decided to put them into a book…i’m too busy to contemplate that. Bye for now…love you…aren’t the kids growing? will pop up for a conf this wkend and c them briefly

  • Michele Says:

    Such nice ways to keep her close to you.

  • Kristin Ockert Says:

    Hi, Hilarie- That was very well expressed. Your mom obviously raised a very loving daughter – good on both of you. My mom has been gone for 33 years now, and your passage sounds very much like it still is today for me. Take care, seize the day, nurture peace. Love, KO

  • Carolyn Says:

    Great post, Hilarie. I often think how odd it is that mundane objects outlive us. A kitchen utensil, a framed print, a chair, and, of course, our clothing. If they bring comfort, so much the better.I’ll bet you look great in fuschia.

  • Linda Murillo Says:

    wow! this really hits home. I am fortunate enough to have both of my parents alive. the conversations have subtly changed and are changing. objects which we seem unimportant are such power reminders of a place or time. thank you !

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