I believe that love is as simple as a comment about a hat, plopped on my head without thought or the benefit of a mirror, as I go out the door to my garden.
I came to this belief one summer, when my gardening outfit prompted my husband to say, “You look just like your mother in that hat.” I really hadn’t meant for anyone, even him, to see me in my torn jeans, caked brown at the knees with mud, the tee shirt smudged and speckled with paint from the weekend’s project, and that awful, crumpled hat pulled low to keep the hair out of my eyes.
At first when my husband compared my look to my mother’s I flinched, remembering how embarrassed I was, for so long, to be seen in public with her, because of the odd ways in which she dressed. More often than not, her outfits were outrageously mismatched – flowers with stripes, color combinations to make you wince, and hats year-round. She usually looked more like a preschool child just learning to dress herself than like my idea of how a mother should be.
Even at the end of her life, she ignored the wigs, the cautious wrapping of subtle scarves, and chose instead to make her own hats. She collected old neckties from all the men she knew and proceeded to sew together her odd-shaped hats, each wild with color. And then she’d even go out in public wearing one, laughing and bragging that she’d created it from the ties donated by “all my boyfriends” as she called them.
So that was how my husband saw me? Yes, apparently it was. And after the first flash of irritation, I remembered how much he loved my mother, how he always spoke with admiration of her independence, her willingness to be herself, never caring what others thought. In comparing my hat to hers, he gave me a gift far better than the roses, boxes of candy, even diamonds, so often associated with romance. His one sentence held his love for her, his love for me, and her love abiding in both of us. So simple.
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