I wore my mother’s coat today. It was her funeral two weeks ago. The coat has been hanging in my wardrobe since we moved to Orkney 18 months past - it came up with us spread out over the last bits and pieces piled high in the back of the car.
My Mum didn’t have many good quality clothes. Like many immobile, house-bound or in-care elderly people she was the subject to never-ending special offers and free gifts from tenacious mail order shopping companies with their too-good-to-be-true prize draw offers. My Mum was good at looking after her own affairs until relatively recently and it was heart-breaking to see her be fooled by the promise of riches if she’d just return the envelope with her very special draw number. But back to the coat...
The coat had been Mum’s winter outer layer for years, at least thirty but I think probably quite a bit longer. She had even had it re-lined at not inconsiderable expense as it was her defence against the blustery winter winds on the Sussex coast. Once Mum was resident in a nursing home the coat just hung in her wardrobe as she didn’t often venture out and, when she did, a jacket was all the protection needed to get into a car. Eventually she asked me to take it away to make room for more bargains from the mail order companies. I hung onto it - I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing someone else in it if given to a charity shop.
Now Mum is gone but I still have her coat. Today I wore it for the very first time. It is many years since she was able to give me a proper hug but today I was ready for her coat to do just that. It’s too long past that she wore it for the coat to have any scent of her still in it’s fibres and maybe that is a good thing? But it’s a long coat and covers my back when I’m pottering outside or picking up litter on the beach and I shall get years more wear out of it. My Mum will be with me in a physical sense whenever I wear the coat and now I am ready to say that is a good thing. Thanks Mum for my new Orkney coat. And for all the hugs over the years.