So, I have another Christmas story to share before everyone gets completely ho-hum bugged bored with holiday lore. Those of you who have been following my blog for awhile know that my Grandmother, who is in her mid 90s, is rather cantankerous and/or particular to the point of ridiculous*, to say the least.
When Nana uttered those life-revising/terror inducing words in January 2010 that she wanted to come and live with me, my husband and teenaged son, Max, I warned her ad nauseum about the polar-bear friendly temps in Ohio. I explained that the thermometer holds fast to a balmy range between 5 and 20 degrees, etc., from December through March.
“You think my blue coat will be okay?” Nana asked.
Her blue coat is basically a raincoat with a heavy lining, and it’s only a 3/4 length.
“You’ll just have to learn to layer your clothes with t-shirts for extra warmth until we find a heavier coat for you in Ohio,” I said, trying to reassure her. However, at the time, I had NO IDEA what a nightmare obtaining a coat would be.
We went to the closest Mall in Dublin, Ohio, for the first time in late February last year. First, she whined ALL the way to the mall about how long the drive was, and EVERY time we go to the mall she mumbles and moans about the 14-mile trek in my comfy Escalade with the heat on full tilt (set on 82° on her side while my eyeballs bleed sweat…:) because:
“Everything down home [i.e. in Georgia] is right there, five minutes away. You couldn’t pay me to live this far from everything.”
And here we go with the conversation we have EVERY SINGLE time we go anywhere outside our suburb…wherein I have to explain that we have all her favorite restaurants like O’Charlies and Steak n Shake, etc., five minutes from the house and several local eateries that are awesome. And though we don’t have a mall, there’s a Walmart, Kmart, Dress Barn, Kohl’s and more than a dozen other stores all within5-10 minutes that she LIKES.
“And living close to a mall was not on our list of criteria when we were looking to move.”
“A better school district than Columbus schools where we lived before, and a low crime area were our highest priority. We have very little crime, and our school district has gotten excellent marks from the Department of Education, pretty much since we moved here ten years ago.”
Anywho, all the bitching about the distance to the mall aside, every shopping trip seeking a coat was a complete waste of time. The only coats she liked contained wool. She and I are both allergic to wool, but she doesn’t seem to understand that if you wear a scarf and gloves, the dreaded wool never touches your skin.
We scoured Kmart, Sears, Land’s End, Chadwicks, Von Maur and Dillards online catalogs, and we went to Kohl’s, and thrift stores aplenty in search of the mythical, full-length coat that was not cursed with the malevolent threads of wool…and couldn’t find bupkiss.
Also, keep in mind, Nana HATES dark colors. She ONLY wears pastels. However, she didn’t want a WHITE coat either because they “…get dirty too easily.” Sigh, and, of course, finding a pastel, non-wool, full-length coat that she LIKED was as likely as finding a unicorn putting on her makeup in the loo at Kohl’s…
Then, I happened to find a goose down coat in early October (this year) at our favorite thrift store, which, ahem is SIX minutes from my house. It was beige, and as with most down coats, it had a quilted, nylon exterior, so it was much easier to clean. It looked brand new, and I thought we FINALLY had a winner…
“No,” she said touching the sleeve, “that slick material. It’s sloppy-looking.”
SHIT! FIRE! And a HOLE in the ground as my mother used to say. “Really?” I scoffed. “I had one just like it in high school, only it was purple. In fact, I wore it on my first trip to New York**, and it kept me rather toasty,” I said, rather annoyed.
“Well, you were a kid.” And she turned away. AT that point, I was pretty much ready to let the old bird just freeze to death all winter long…again…but I didn’t because…
I was hanging up my tawny brown, 3/4 length faux shearling (bought on clearance at Chadwicks for $57) on one of our coldest days in November after taking Nana to the beauty shop for the weekly “wash n set”, and I said, “If it’s this cold next week, maybe, you should borrow this coat. I can wear my wool one.”
“Yeah, I’d love to have a coat like yours.”
AND THE RACE WAS ON to find a shearling that wasn’t black/dark brown/dark green/red, etc. The first one I found was in an L.L. Bean catalog that arrived a few days later among the avalanche of holiday periodicals. It was almost $200. I pondered whether to spend that much since I’d already bought Nana several other gifts when a lightening bolt jump-started my fatigued brain with three words: Burlington Coat Factory!
Finally, the miracle coat appeared on my computer screen, a full-length prettier version of my shearling (the suede is a little lighter/a rusty brown -see the photo below) – save for the large round buttons since my coat has a zipper…and it was under $100. SOLD!
I wrapped it in lovely, light blue PASTEL paper covered in white snowflakes the day after it arrived and gave it to Nana as an early Christmas gift a couple of Fridays ago because the high temp was supposed to be 31 that day.
“Oh, it’s beautiful,” she gushed when she opened it, but immediately, I could tell – something was amiss. There was a hesitation in her voice when praising the ONLY coat that met her rigid list of priorities.
“Is the color too dark?” I asked.
“No, I love that lighter brown. It’s very pretty.”
She tried it on, smiling, and it fit as though it was custom made for her. Two hours later, she put the coat on again as we were leaving to get her hair done, and she mumbled, “I wish the front were a little different though.”
“Why? What’s wrong with it?” I asked, bruising my lip with my teeth to keep from sputtering, “You have to KEEP THIS COAT! I’ll never find anything else CLOSER to meeting your damned CHECKLIST!”
“I don’t know,” she said fingering the buttons and stroking the fur around the top button to the neckline.
I shook my head and helped her into my SUV. When I retrieved her from the shop an hour later, her hairdresser, Tammy (who is a GODSEND) said, “I love her new coat.”
“Thank you. So do I,” I said smiling.
“But she thinks it’s too fancy,” Tammy said, grinning.
OMG! Seriously? Queen MAUDE of the retail GODDESSES (Nana worked in retail for 30 years) thinks it’s too FANCY! This from the woman who constantly criticizes people/goose down coats for looking SLOPPY!? WTF?
Nana was standing right beside me, and an embarrassed grin wiggled across her thin lips.
“I see. But is it warm?”
“Yes, very warm.”
“And it fits okay?”
“Then, you’re keeping it, yes?” I said with that same well-practiced and hardened gaze akin to the looks I’ve given my children when they were acting up in church or committing some other infraction. A look that spawned immediate obedience for fear of getting swatted with my purse (not really) or losing all the TV/computer/play time until the age of 21.
And guess what? That look ALSO works on contrary, stubborn nearly 100-year old women as well because Nana hasn’t uttered one single syllable about possibly returning that GORGEOUS shearling since… 🙂
Nana – ZERO
Tenacious B’s UNIVERSE – 1,000,000…
Over and out from INSANITY CENTRAL/Santa’s WEARY workshop…
See Blog #18 – The Oatmeal Incident… 🙂
See Blogs #36 and #37 – New York or Bust I and II…