Last week, I was at Mom’s and there was a cold snap. I did not pack a jacket from home, so I started going through Dad’s jackets to see if one was suitable. Dad’s security guard jacket still hangs in the closet, like he would put it on for a round of sentry duty at any moment. His trucking company jackets were also in there. They must be at least 30 years old. They are a bright orange, so I declined to wear one of those, as I didn’t want to look like a hazard cone.
Dad at a friend’s house, circa 1975, wearing the famous purple shirt.
It’s funny how reminders of Dad continue to flow into my mind with the change of seasons. There’s a great singer named Martha Wainwright who just released an album called Come Home to Mama that explores the emotions she went through after her mother, the wonderful Canadian folk singer Kate McGarrigle died. The whole album is wonderful, but “All Your Clothes,” a song inspired by her going through her mother’s closet after her death is particularly moving. Sure, memories are more important than tangible goods, but there is also often a deep connection between tangible goods and family memories.
What I didn’t find was Dad’s groovy purple shirt that he wore in so many of our family photos when I was a baby. That would be a keeper!
Mom has always had her quirks when it comes to how her home is set up. For example, she kept her clothes in the spare room closet instead of the master bedroom where she slept. When I was setting things up for her to come home, making things easy for her to get to was a priority, so I moved her easy-to-access clothes into the main bedroom closet.
When I opened the closet, I got a whiff of why Mom may have had things set up the way she did. I could still faintly smell Dad’s scent of cigarettes and aftershave lingering on his sweaters and jackets. She had even kept one of his hospital gowns.
So I compromised. I moved a few of her clothes into the main closet, and moved some of Dad’s stuff into the second bedroom closet. That way, Dad’s scent can be in both places.
Today there was some drama with my mom not having clean clothes to wear. I brought her five changes of clothing which was what I was told to supply. Somehow, Mom ended up not having any pants to wear and had to go to the dining room with a bedsheet wrapped around her waist.
Of course, Mom could have had breakfast in her room but I’m glad she wants to be social. I guess it isn’t quite like high school because she would have definitely been defying the dress code!
With Dad, we supplied a few outfits, but we never saw him wearing his own clothes. I’ve written before about my first visit to the nursing home where Dad lived, and seeing him in Scooby Doo pajama bottoms. When they sent “his” belongings after he died almost all of the clothes belonged to someone else.
So far, no cartoon character prints for Mom, but she was so grateful when I visited her at lunch and they found her a pair of sweatpants to wear. I was grateful too, and I brought in several more outfits for her to wear.
When you become old and sick, you give thanks wherever you can find it.