My good man doesn’t understand why I like my sister’s old clothes. She shows up with a bagful of clothing and I rummage through them like a kid with a treasure box.
The look on his face says: “At your age, you really should not be wearing your sister’s hand-me-downs.”
I could tell him they’re not just any old cast-offs: they’re my sister’s cast-offs! But he didn’t have older brothers; he doesn’t understand.
I could say that wearing each other’s clothes goes back decades, to stories like this one: for her first big job interview, my sister wore the light-blue suit that I had just bought with all my savings. She got the job and I shared in her pride. We never forgot that moment or that suit.
I could remind him that my sister did me a favour by accepting my collection of shoes.
Many had been bought on sale in Italy when I worked there. But some were bought closer to home, after the car accident. They were a commitment: I would heal, would wear “nice shoes” again.
It never happened, of course, and a few years ago, I finally surrendered. But I knew those shoes had to go to a special person. Someone who wore the same size and would understand.
My sister understood. My sisters always understand more than I tell them.
They’d also understand why I bought this strange-looking coat, another thing my good man can’t fathom.
“Why are the sleeves different?” he said when I first wore it some years ago.
“And those buttons!”
I said each purchase contributes to funds for families in the Himalayas. That didn’t change his mind.
It’s been over-worn. When the zipper got stuck last week and I had to step into the coat, cane and all, in the middle of a restaurant, he wasn’t there. And a good thing, that: he’d have turned white with astonishment — a difficult thing for a black man to do.
“You did what?” he asked, when I mentioned it.
“It was a struggle! And when I looked up, giggling, other patrons burst into laughter,” I blithely continued.
“And that didn’t bother you?”
“Of course not!”
You should have seen the look on his face.
The issue, you see, is personal pride and dignity. It seems I’ve lost all of mine.
Dedicated to my sisters, and to my husband, who love me, no matter what.