My Sister’s Coats

it’s finally spring. no, really, i think we can trust it this time. the weather’s been holding at about 45 – 50 degrees at night and we’ve seen this thing called the sun during the day.

it’s time to move the winter clothes out of the closet and put the spring and summer clothes in, not to mention get rid of the winter stuff that hasn’t been worn in a few years or some that’s just looking too ragged to wear at all anymore.

if you live in a climate like we have here in philadelphia, you have to have a couple of sets of clothing to make it through the year and to go along with that you need to have a wardrobe of coats and jackets for the various seasons. you need casual jackets, lightweight for spring and fall, heavier weight for winter and dressy jackets both lightweight and heavier weight, as well as at least one waterproof coat/jacket, maybe with a zip out lining. it can get expensive.

for many years i just put up with what i had and went around cold, wet or shabby. then my sister died. that’s an odd thing to say, but sadly, as we found out after she died, my sister was a hoarder. she had multiples of very many things– clothing, shredders, books, not to mention trash– piled from floor to ceiling in her little carriage house. literally floor to ceiling and wall to wall. as my brother, sister, husband and i culled through the mess, we uncovered a collection of coats and jackets that would rival that in a small store. many of the coats/jackets that we found were donated to charity, some my other sister took and some i shipped home for myself.

don’t think i’m crazy but the first time i put on one of the jackets after getting them home, i felt the distinct sensation of someone tightly hugging me. i wasn’t frightened or nervous, just calm. i think i even said my sister’s name out loud. i choose to believe that she was saying hello or goodbye or something. i never felt it again.

anyway, it turns out that four of the jackets that belonged to my sister were very useful to me and i wore them for many years before i lost weight and they were just too big to wear anymore. but during that period of time, i learned the wisdom of having a proper wardrobe of coats and jackets. i heard someone say recently that she didn’t so much mind the last winter, even though it was a rough one, mainly because she finally had all of the right gear to go out in. i understand.

so, for the past year i have been building a proper wardrobe of coats and jackets that fit correctly, are useful in each season and that i have something appropriate for work, dress and casual wear. as a result, i’m finally divesting myself of the coats/jackets that once belonged to my sister.

but they are still sitting in a trash bag waiting for me to drop them off at goodwill and i can’t seem to get myself to finish this task. i have no more practical use for the coats/jackets, but clearly i have some emotional use for them. some of the most difficult times of my life occurred while i had use of my sister’s coats and jackets and those moments are pinned to those articles of clothing. as long as i have those jackets and coats of hers, i am still pinned to her even though she has been gone for over 11 years. i have other items of hers – jewelry, pottery, photographs she took – but none of them seem as personal as the coats and jackets.

still, i’m sick of looking at the trash bags. and i’m not a person who likes clutter.

purple heart called the other day to say that they are stopping on our street next week. i committed to two bags of clothing – the two bags i have sitting in the downstairs bedroom that contain my sister’s coats/jackets.

somehow it’s easier to passively leave them on the front lawn for pickup than load them in the car and drop them off at goodwill myself.

then, for the first time in many years, i will have a closet full of coats/jackets that are pinned to me.


1 Comment

Filed under addiction, cleaning, family

One response to “My Sister’s Coats

  1. Diana Card

    Very nice – and some good insights too! Visited my sister in Tucson over the weekend – her house is a kind of museum of her life … I recognized the dining table and chairs fro my childhood home, and all the decor she ever had, from her first apartment on. She has never thrown away anything I ever gave to or made for her … I can’t say the same for myself. Over the years as I moved through different stages of my life, and the fake fur cape she made for me when I was in grammar school, for example, no longer fit my concept of who I thought I had become, I passed it on to charity in hopes that another person would love it as I did. I downsized from a 3300 sq ft house to a 650 sq ft apartment – no way could I have kept everything!

    I like the story of the hug you got from Mary through her coat – it brought tears to my eyes.

    Happy Mother’s Day, my friend.


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