I spent about five days with my family in Georgia helpings my mother move out of her house and into my sister's. My mother is 85, but she is not frail—that woman can climb stairs and haul off and belt you, if she wanted, but she's showing signs of dementia, and she's lonely in her house all by herself. So, she now lives with my sister and her husband.
We started on Thursday by packing up some clothes to take back to my mother's new bedroom, and we emptied the buffet that was part of her dining room set. The big thing has small drawers on the bottom that held candles that I swear were there when I was a little girl, and they haven't been lit in 30 years. We threw those away, and we sorted through 40 years of table clothes and cloth napkins and these little crocheted things. I could never figure out what those things were, but it turns out their glass cozies. You slip them on the bottom of glasses filled with sweet tea, and the glasses won't sweat on the fine furniture. Huh.
For the next two days, we emptied closets and book shelves and kitchen cabinets and dresser drawers. When you are raised during something like the Great Depression, apparently you don't ever throw anything away because you might need it someday, and won't you be sorry if you have to do without because you were careless. It helps to have an objective eye when it comes time to fill up the trash bags, and my niece-in-law and sisters and I did the job. When Mama wasn't looking, we dragged bags and bags of trash to the garage where the men of the family were waiting with a trailer to haul it all away. And we organized so that renters can find the things they need without having to plow through old crap, broken frying pans or that faux fur coat styled in 1975.
My mother has been suggesting we all look through the house and take what we want, whatever she hadn't planned on taking for herself, but we were all a little reluctant. You can take your favorite things when you parents have died, but when they're just moving, it feels like scavenging. I did take a few things, though—I took some cross-stitch chickens I had made years ago and the family picnic basket. I also took my mother's hats that she wore in the 1940s and '50s. A woman was never completely dressed without a hat, and a lady never left the house without one that perfectly matched her outfit. My mother had some doozies, and I used to take them out of the hat boxes when I was a kid and imagine wearing them in another era.
I have hung these hats on the walls of my guest room, where I had displayed some vintage hats I already had.
Here are three of them—these have frames on the inside, like wings, that fit the shape of your head and keep the hat on.
The one on the far left is fur-trimmed with netting that frames the face; and on the right is my favorite, a blue velvet hat with lace trim. I'd wear it now if I didn't look like a buffoon in hats.
And this tweed one belonged to my father, back in the day when a gentleman never left the house without a hat either. The felt one is just a vintage hat I had I found in an antique store, nothing special. I love these hats and will guard them with my life—until the day my kids come through armed with trash bags and ready to throw out my crap. It's part of the cycle of life, I suppose.