The phone rang, my sister was calling from a pay phone in a North Carolina airport. It was 1989 and she was on her way to my wedding. The call was to ensure that I knew when her plane was landing. She said, “I just saw mom running to catch her plane. She had a huge bag and all I could see were some feathers sticking out of the top of the thing. Who knows what she has planned!” Keith’s young face went pale when I told him. He had no idea what to expect and his conservative New England upbringing had not prepared him for the women in my family.
The thought struck fear in my heart as well. I was pretty insecure (I’m still working on it, actually) and my mom’s confidence sometimes made me cringe. She was so sure of herself and moved through life with style and grace. I was proud of her and insecure about all the ways I felt I didn’t measure up. Her extravagance challenged me, and pushed me out of my comfort zone… hopefully, I do that now for my daughters. Teaching them by example to dance to a tune they may not yet be able to hear.
My mom came dressed to the nines for my wedding. She and my dad were a dashing couple. He was in his dressed whites. Crisp and sharp military issue with 25 years of service ribbons, and shoes shined so bright you could see yourself reflected in them. Mom was decked out in a coral dress with buttons down the front and cute kick pleat. It was the hat though… at least 18 inches around with a swooping brim and lace stretched over the top. A puff of feathers, lace and fluff topped off the affair and lent it power. She was stunning.
When she headed home, she left the hat for her granddaughter. Allie trounced around the house with it for years, using it for dress up, as a pool for her baby, and eventually a tunnel for her brother’s trucks. The hat became a legend that grew as time went by. My mom has a sense of style in her everyday life I’ve never been able to attain, and that hat may have been the pinnacle of the extravagant style she’s become known for.
Twenty-seven years later, we were planning Stephanie’s wedding. We all wanted to know how mom was going to top the first wedding. What would she do for a hat? As the wedding neared, mom called to say she was ordering hats for all of us. Aunt Billie would attend, mom, my sister Kristi and I would all wear hats… fascinators actually. The small feathered decorations which adorn the royal family at formal events. We were quite a spectacle. We wore our hats and reveled in our celebration of the day, and our love for one another.
Just over a year later, the hats are arriving. We’ve all been searching the internet to find the right headwear. Kristi called the other day to let me know the hats were on the way. Well, all but mom’s hat. Hers is still a work in progress. Pam and her girls have found hats as well. Steph picked out a small one too. On Sunday, you’ll know who belongs to my family. We’re the ladies in the hats!