Mom loves to wear hats. For 20 years she wore hats to work at a local hospital. Her heart ached for patients and visitors whose frowns showed stories of heartache.
Mom was not a doctor or nurse and could not offer physical cures, but she wanted to do something. Her solution was to wear hats. But not just any old hat. No, the hats mom wore were outrageous, silly and definitely made people look.
Mom owned hats in different sizes, shapes and colors. There were bell-shaped, flat-topped and flat brimmed hats. She had hats made of straw, tweed, wool and felt. Some adorned ribbons, bows and flowers. Others had ostrich, peacock and pheasant feathers. She had furry hats, bonnets, top hats and hard hats. She had hats for different nationalities and even a few that played songs or lit up at the press of a button.
She wanted patients and visitors to take a break from the issues that weighed them down and laugh. She was successful too. Everyone remembered her and sought her out with each visit.
As popular as the hat lady was, to me she was mom. And because I was her daughter, I did not understand the impact she had on those around her. I saw mom as immature with her silly hats.
Today, as mom and I walk down this road of Alzheimer’s, I have learned to cherish every moment. Some days are good and others are not. But I take each one of those days and store them in my heart.
Mom still wears hats. Whether she is at church or in the grocery store, she still captures the attention of strangers. They smile and laugh with her. The joy mom carries with her is contagious, and she is always willing to share it with others. She still loves to make people smile and has been a blessing to many.
I am no longer embarrassed when mom when she wears her hats. I appreciate how she lifts the burden of others and replaces it with humor. She has taught me that there can be laughter during difficult times.
I am proud of mom who will forever be the hat lady.